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29716 No. 29716
=====
Inari Shrine, Kyoto – Dec 31, 23:54
=====


I stuff my phone away again after checking the clock one last time. The breach is predicted to happen shortly after midnight, so I still have a few minutes. I’m already done preparing for a change, so there’s not much else for me to do other than relax and wait.

I’m ready for whatever it decides to throw at me today.

It’s New Year’s Eve with only a few minutes remaining in the year. Off in the distance I can hear the cheer of people as they enjoy their festival. Their laughter as they play at the booths with their friends and/or companion. A few cries of frustration can be heard as they lose at a game only to try again until they either get it, run out of money, or decide it isn’t worth it.

I’m a little ways off the beaten path between the shrine and the festival. From here I can see each and every person passing through the tunnel of tori. Of course they might see me as well, but it’d be a little harder as I’m concealed by the shadows of the trees and the illumination from the path blocks their view this far into the darkness.

I’ve placed myself in a small patch of trees away from the path to the shrine. It’s part of a small groove of willows which surrounds the shrine grounds. The area where I’m working tonight isn’t too dense; in fact I’m in a pretty open area.

So I can just sit here and browse people. Watch them as they walk past with a smile that says they don’t have a single care in the world. Truly, this is my favorite way to pass time. To see their joy filled expressions is the best kind of pay for my work, because that means I’m doing it right.

By now there’s a steady stream of people going from the festival to the shrine to get a good view of the fireworks. Families, friends, lovers, you name it. All of them happily ignorant of the danger I’m about to face. Exactly the way I want it.

I’m dragged out of my thoughts by the collective shout from the shrine. It appears they’ve begun the countdown already.

I ready my stance and conjure up the formula I’m going to use, and maintain a perfect image of it frozen in my mind.

Six

Five

Four

Three

Two

One

With a loud cheer a rocket is sent flying high in the sky before disappearing. Less than a second later it explodes with a myriad of colors.

However, that’s not what I’m looking at. No, I’m more interested in the cracks that just appeared in the air. I know how it sounds, but there’s no better way to describe it. It’s like a cracked window, but without the frame, just floating in the air.

And that’s my cue.

I raise my hand to activate the spell I’ve prepared. A barrier immediately surrounds the area and seals it off from the outside, confining me with whatever's going to cross the breach this time.

And just like that, the air shatters. A familiar sensation rushes over me as I’m pulled from the world I know, a hollow and lonely feeling aching throughout my body. A feeling of abandonment, as if the world itself is denying my existence.

But I’m not alone. With me is a youkai with a strong desire to leave the sacred land; an ice-based youkai in the shape of a big porcupine. How fitting of an opponent. Here I am at Inari’s shrine in the middle of winter fighting a blue hiwatari.

Without wasting any time it lowers its body, connecting each of its tails by the tip. The air itself starts to freeze, turning into a sharp crystal made of clear ice. The moment it finishes shaping it, the tails burst apart violently, launching the ice at me with deadly precision.

I turn slightly, letting it pass by. The cold air that trails after it brushes against me, sending shivers down my spine. As it crashes into one of the trees it leaves a fine mist of ice crystals floating in the air. The area where the ice hit has been left with a hole, covered by a thick layer of ice.

That’s bad news. There’s no telling what it’ll do if it hit me. I just have to avoid getting hit then, but that’s easier said than done.

The temperature drops a few degrees as a faint mist starts to surround the beast. The mist collects itself on the spikes, turning each of them into ice similar to the one fired at me. It bristles momentarily before launching a flurry of ice spikes at me through the air

I bring my hand up in front of me forming a basic seal. As I whisper a prayer, I focus my spiritual power to the tip of my fingers. I draw a line through the air with them, leaves behind a glowing trail which immediately spreads, creating a radiant wall of light.

A fine dust of crystals form as the shards of ice crash against my shield. But strong as it may be, it’s not impenetrable, as proven by the shards that manage to make their way through. If I could use my left hand I would be able to stop those as well, but alas, I can’t.

Cold air brushes my neck as a shard flies by. A moment later, I realize what just happened as a biting cold sensation spreads through my body. Distracted, I let another shard slip by, cutting into my shoulder. I flinch in pain as I lose concentration and drop the barrier entirely. A few more shards tear past my thigh, forcing me to the ground.
Seeing my weakened stage, it stops the barrage and begins to cautiously make its way towards me. The wounds made by the crystals have frozen over with a thin layer of ice. It’s going to slow my movement a nudge, but it won’t keep me from fighting. Compared to what I’m used to, this bare registers as a flesh wound.

I quickly bring up my hand and bite into it until the taste of metal fill my mouth. I clench my hand before slamming it on the ground. A dim green circle lights up from underneath the snow before a trail shoots along the ground towards the youkai.

As the trail approaches the icy beast, it splits into two, encircling and trapping it. The faint jolt passing through my arm signifies the completion of the preparations, and I initiate the spell. I start pouring in spiritual power while mentally reciting the formula.

As quick as it came, the light disappears. In its place a wall of jade-colored fire appears, surrounding the beast.

I can’t help but smirk as I stagger to my feet. It was a rough start, but I have more than a few cards up my sleeve. Just because I have next to no mana doesn’t mean I can’t use spells of my own.

The beast looks afraid of the fire surrounding it, furiously swinging its body in hopes of finding a small opening.

A familiar noise drags both our attention towards a rift in the larger barrier I created, one that quickly grows and spreads throughout its entirety. Quickly looking back at the beast, I see that it’s covered in cracks similar to those of the rifts. The repair is done. We’re being sent back. I won.

In a last stand, the icy youkai ignores the flames and charges head first. By reflex I assume a defensive stance. It leaps, and just as it’s about to hit me, it shatters. Along with it, the barrier collapses and everything fades to black.

After a moment, the surroundings fade back in. The pressure of rejection lightens, allowing me to relax again.

I let out a sigh and collect my thoughts again. Checking my phone reveals that nearly half an hour has past. To me it felt like nothing more than two minutes at most. Well, the barrier behaves weirdly, so it’s not really surprising. This just means that I spent yet another New Year’s battling it out.

The good news is that this was the last breach for now, so I can return home again. Bad news is that Doc is going to tear me a new one for getting injured by a small fry.

“I think it came from over here.”

“Are you sure you didn’t just imagine it? I didn’t hear anything.”

“I’m sure I heard something from over here somewhere.”



Shit. Don’t tell me they heard the barrier. No, that’d be impossible. Calm down. It probably wasn’t me they heard. If I just stay here they’ll pass by. You can’t see this place from the main road after all.

But of course fate is out to prove me wrong. Two girls catch sight of me. Both freeze for a moment, trying to understand the sight before them. Given my state, I guess it really isn’t that strange.

“Holy shit, are you alright? What happened?” The red haired girl runs up to me.

The blonde girl with twin tails follows right behind. She doesn’t say anything though, just keeps her distance as she eyes me carefully.

“It doesn’t concern you.” I turn away from her, scouting for my bag. It’s still near the rock I rested on before the fight; seems like it didn’t get dragged in this time.

“Professor, I don’t think we should get involved with him. I have a bad feeling,” her blonde friend speaks her mind.

“What are you talking about, Chiyuri? You should always help someone when you see them in trouble,” the ‘professor’ says. Though, to me she doesn’t look like much of a professor. Maybe it’s because of her young appearance, or maybe the fact her yukata doesn’t exactly scream ‘esteemed person’.

“But-”

“You should listen to your friend.” I cut her off before she gets to correct this ‘professor’. “You shouldn’t get involved, so just leave and forget you saw anything.” Just as I start making my way over to my bag, my legs decide to remind me of the wounds I earned by giving in and forcing me down.

“See, you can’t even walk by yourself.” She places her hands on her hips, taking a pose of confidence. “You should just accept the help of two pretty girls when they offer it.”

What kind of reason is that? Just accept the help of someone because they’re pretty? That just sounds like an excuse a back-alley brothel would use to reel in foreigners. Could it be she’s trying to rob me? The only valuables I carry would be a debit card and phone, both easily replaceable.

This girl is not about to give up, despite her friend’s clear protests. The way I see it I have two options: waste energy trying to convince her to leave me be, or go along with her and disappear when she’s not looking.

I let out a sigh as I once again stagger to my feet, hearing the obvious protest my by legs. “Sure, I’ll play along for now. Just tell me one thing. Why?”

“Why?” She shoots a quick glance over her right shoulder before she turns to face me. “Let’s call it the kindness of my heart. It is New Year’s after all. We should spread joy wherever we can.”

Yep, going along would be the right choice. With an answer like that I know she wouldn’t have given up easily.


=====
"Professor’s" apartment – 00:40
=====


“There, as good as new.” She says as she packs up her first aid kit and leaves, leaving me alone with her blonde friend.

I let my hand run over the band aid. It’s been a long time since I last had one of these stuck on me. It’s never been deemed necessary. Well it still isn’t, she’s just over reacting a bit.

“Is she always like that?” The girl nearly flinches at my sudden question.

“What’s it to you,” she snaps back.

“Alright, alright, sorry I asked.” I raise my hand to calm her, which seems to work as she just sinks into the chair she’s using.

Now that I actually take a look, this room is decorated more like a house than an apartment. I’d expect it to be more compact, but it’s quite spacious here. It makes me think of a western style, although I’ve never seen one in person.

“How long are you going to stay?” She doesn’t bother to look at me as she asks.

Returning the favor from before I answer with a “What’s it to you?”

She locks her eyes on me. “The fact you’re staying at my friend’s home. The fact I don’t trust you. The fact I want you gone as soon as possible.” If I didn’t plan on leaving as soon as possible anyway, I might have felt slightly insulted by that.

“Fair enough, I guess.” I shrug. “I’ll leave as soon as I can feel every inch of my legs again.”

“You seem to be able to walk fine as is, why delay any longer?”

“If I tried to leave now, your friend would likely come through the door and ‘convince’ me to stay.” I rest my head on my healthy hand. “Even if I’d already made it out of the door, she’d come and get me.”

The blue eyed girl sits up straight, giving me her full attention. “And how can you be so sure of that?”

“I’m quite good at reading people, you see.” I let a smirk crawl onto my face “Like for instance, I sense quite the hatred coming from you, and aimed at me."

“Oh really?” She smirks back at me. “What makes you say that?”

The red haired girl walks back into the room and stands behind her friend. “Now, now, Chiyuri, don’t be so harsh on him.” She’s changed her clothes to something more relaxed; grey baggy pants and a black t-shirt with some English nonsense written on it. It gives off a kind of makeshift pajamas feeling, if I’m to be honest.

‘Chiyuri’ stands up in protest. “But Yumemi, he-“

“-has done nothing wrong.” She cuts off her friend.

For a few moments she just stands there staring at the red haired girl. “Well, fine. I’m going to sleep then,” she says before marching off to another room.

“I hope she wasn’t too harsh on you.” She takes the seat that’s now been freed up.

“I’ve been treated worse before.” I tell her. “But to change the topic, I still haven’t heard your name.”

“Ah, sorry, it seems I got too caught up in the moment. My name is Okazaki Yumemi but feel free to call me Yumemi, I don’t really care for the formalities.” She gives me a friendly smile. “She’s Kitashirakawa Chiyuri.”

“That’s Kitashirakawa for you, you got that?” The small girl yells from her room. “Kita-shira-kawa.”

“I thought you were sleeping.” I reply.

“I am,” her yell is followed by a solid ‘thud’ sound before falling silent.

Yumemi just lets out a sigh, to which I follow suit. “Anyway, the two of you may call me Konoha.”

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” She gives me another smile. “Anyway, you should probably get some rest. I hope you’re okay with using the couch.”

“You’re probably right.” I lean back into said couch. “Traveling home will take most of the day tomorrow.”

“Traveling? Oh no, I’m going to take you to the hospital tomorrow.” She picks up on my confused gaze and continues. “It’s, um, well, your arm.” She scratches her cheek as she tries to avoid looking directly at it. Quite obviously so, in fact.

“Oh, that. Don’t worry about it.” I drag my left arm out from the shirt. “It’s been like this for a few months already. It’s nothing new.”

“I- I see. That’s, um, good?” She hurriedly waves her hands in front of her. “No, I mean that’s fine. If you say it is fine, then I’ll trust you.”

Without anything left to say, I just sit there waiting for her to continue. Although it appears she’s run out of things to say as well. After a few seconds she opts to go get a blanket for me before heading to the same room as Kitashirakawa.

I close my eyes and rest.


=====
Okazaki’s apartment, Kyoto – Jan 1, 04:45
=====


While I didn’t get to rest for more than a couple of hours, my legs have healed enough for me to walk without a problem. The lesser wounds like the one on my cheek are almost completely gone already.

The two girls are sound asleep in the next room. I didn’t even need to bother with checking as their snoring told me more than I needed to know.

Right, so I would hate to just leave them like this, considering the kindness they showed me. Or what the red-haired girl, Yumemi I think it was, showed me. If I leave a note telling them I’ll be back to repay them, I’ll at least feel a little better.

With a quick scan of the room I find some paper laying the table. Some of them are filled with text; others are filled with scribbles and calculations.
Though, the way it’s arranged strikes me as odd. Perhaps it’s just because they’re personal notes of some kind, but even so they should be organized in some form. I mean a bit of text written in a circle with a little doodle in between every so often doesn’t seem like the best way to make notes. The doodles are neat, though, I’ll give them that; simple yet elegant. They kind of remind me of runes; runes which are used in spell circles.

I look over the notes again.

It’s a stupid idea, but there’s no harm in trying. If I look at this as if it was a spell, then I’d connect these points here, they look awfully alike. The lines match up with a smaller circle in the middle of the ring of text. That’s a coincidence, surely. A thinner line seems to run on a skewed axis through the inner circle; it stops shortly before it reaches the text. If I draw a circle there, I should draw one on the other side of the text with the same distance.

A generic fire ignition spell; a rather simple one at that. Although the construction was weird. Normally you’d start with a circle to use as a base then add on from that, that’s common sense even if you don’t know anything about magic. And these marks were placed too accurate. I refuse to accept that as a coincidence. So why? Are they picking it apart? That’d make sense. If they started with the entire structure, and then dismantled it piece by piece it’s likely they’d end up with something that’d resemble what I see here on paper.

And I guess they used that as the blue print for this other spell circle; although I somehow doubt it is one. It’s different. The runes have been replaced by another language, foreign with roman letters. The overall shape looks more edgy as well. There’s something written in the corner of the paper, it’s been boxed in so it looks like a note or a memo.

During our escalated visit to Gensokyo in search of valid subjects for experiment ##### we were forced to field test the spell. It proved a success, although the cost of the spell increased during the fight, compared to the resources used in the lab. It’d be easier if we could tap into this ‘mana’ that’s always mentioned, but alas. We’ll need to look into a cheaper fuel for the magic in the near future, my salary won’t cut it at this rate.

Fuck. These girls aren’t normal.

They don’t just know of magic; they have developed a new type of magic. Although it's amazing, and perhaps even a little scary, it would have been something I'd have ignored, if not for what they said about Gensokyo. By the looks of it, they’ve been there. I’m not sure if they attacked, or was attacked, but I do know that they fought.

I’m coming back here, that’s for sure. These girls are now my business. But for now I should return home. I have other things to take care of.


=====
Hakurei Shrine – Jan 1, 20:35
=====


It took most of the day, but I made it back to the shrine in one piece. Quite a feat considering the entire mountain has been covered in snow since I left. I’ll need to get sweeping again soon; doesn’t seem like anyone else bothered to do it when I was gone. But not now; right now I should go see Doc and get my wounds looked at.

I slide open the door to the shrine’s main room and am immediately greeted by a new face; a female youkai fox with a golden coat and matching eyes. By the number of tails, it’s safe to assume she’s old.

I greet her with a polite bow. “I apologize for my appearance, I just came back. I’ll be able to attend to you shortly, so please make yourself at home while you wait.”

“No, no, there’s no need. The head priest is just looking into some things right now.” She pats the kotatsu a few times. “Won’t you join me for some conversation? I think it could take a while before he returns.”

I really should go see Doc. But it’s not like my wounds will get any worse because of a few minutes of conversation.

I place my bag beside the door before taking a seat. “Of course, Miss…”

“Yakumo,” she tells me, “Yakumo Ran. It’s written as Eight Clouds, and Ran is written with the same character as the color indigo. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance young Hakurei.” She gives me a small bow over the table.

“The pleasure is all mine.” I lean back into my chair. “It appears you already know my name, so let me introduce myself on by first name. I’m called Ryuko, spelled with characters for Dragon and Child.”

“Such a fierce name,” she comments with a slight smile in the eye. “Anyway, can I assume you’re the only one working here; besides the head priest of course?”

“Technically speaking yes; I’m the only other priest of this shrine. However we also have two others living here to help us do our job properly.”

“I see.” She nods. “I can imagine how much work there must be for you folks. So what about the head priest? He doesn’t look the kind for this type of work; how’s he holding up?”

“Jun? Well, he has different work than I do.” I rest my head in my hand. “I’m not really sure of exactly what it is he’s doing, but whatever it is, it’s keeping him busy,” I lie. I know plenty about his work; I’m just not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about.

“I see, I see.” She nods again. “Then perhaps you can tell me what it is you’re-” her ears twitch. “Looks like that won’t be necessary. The head priest is on his way back it seems.” She gives me another bow. “Thank you for talking with me, although it was only for a brief time.”

“You’re very welcome, Miss Yakumo.” I return her bow. “I hope that whatever matter you came here for will be resolved easily.” I wish her luck as I close the door to the room.

The clinic is right next to the shrine so it’s just a short walk away. On the way I notice one of the local villagers exit the building. She notices me approaching and waves with a huge smile on.

“It doesn’t look like you’re quite done yet, Akame. Someone else is on their way,” she yells through the door. “It’s good to see you back in one piece, kid, but I gotta go.” She pats my shoulder as she moves past me.

With a sigh another person steps out of the door. He gives my body a quick look over before just turning around and walks back in. I follow suit and just take a seat at my usual spot.

“Do I want to know why you’re all tattered?” he simply asks as he prepares a syringe.

“A three tailed nekomata managed to out speed my predictions; it took the seal by the way, so we’ll have to replace it.”

“If it took the seal, the healing effect should have lasted the rest of the fight,” he comments, “you must have faced some more.”

“I encountered a frost hiwatari. It overwhelmed my defense with quantity.” I pull up my sleeve so he can clean the area where the needle is going.

“Hiwatari are generally considered weak. You shouldn’t have much trouble with them.” He injects the medicine and I lie down.

It takes a moment before it takes effect. I feel my muscles tense up as it spreads up through my arm and out through the rest of my body. After a few seconds all energy leaves me and a feeling of exhaustion flows over me.

“I still can’t use my left arm.” I tell him as the immediate effect wears off. “I have trained to use each arm equally efficient, but it just feels unnatural to not be able to use my left at all.”

He holds his hands over my torso and a dim blue light begins to shine from my flesh. “Still can’t use it? It’s been three months already; Jun said it wouldn’t be more than a month.” As the wounds start to close he moves his hands over other areas. “And at that point it would be counterproductive to cancel the ritual.” He lifts his hands as the last wound is closed. “There, that should do the trick.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

He doesn’t give me a chance to get up as he pins me down by my shoulders. “Don’t thank me,” he says as he crashes his hard skull into mine. His strong grip prevents me from recoiling even slightly. “Now, let me repeat myself once again. Do not rely on my magic to heal you.” He releases me before he continues.

“I’ve told you countless times already; if you rely on my healing, you’ll eventually reach a point where I can’t do anything for you anymore. I know how it must be to be the only human around for miles, but you still have to remember that you are only human. You have limitations, even if you have pushed them quite far, they’re still there. I can only heal you as long as your body can regenerate. Once it says stop, that’s it, that’s my limit.”

I remain silent.

“I’ll go talk to Jun about your arm.” He gets up and walks over to the door where he stops. “Kohane and I are both against you leaving with that arm. You’re just not fit to fight without it,” he says without turning around, “The only reason we let you go is because you’re the only one who can wander Japan freely; Not like us youkai.” He stands there for a few more seconds before adding, “Rest here until you feel like you can move again, then go straight to bed. Tomorrow will resume as normal.” Then he leaves.

I just lay back and rest.


=====
January 12th
=====


The day that followed proceeded as normally, just as Doc said it would. I woke up and went through my morning workout. Afterwards I took care for the chores that’d been negated while I was gone such as general cleaning as well as going to the village to get fresh supplies again. The rest of the day went by with me practicing the art of fighting.

The only noteworthy thing was my talk with Jun regarding my arm. He said it was simply going to take some time. While he said that he knew it was about time, he wouldn’t tell me when it was. And as his disciple I chose to accept that; he knows best, after all.

It took only took about a week and a half before we detected new activity which requiring our attention. I was sent out to take care of it once again.

[] There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor on Tokyo.
[] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
[] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.
Expand all images
>> No. 29717
[] There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor on Tokyo.
>> No. 29718
[x] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
>> No. 29719
[x] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.
I like cemeteries. What better place is there for a supernatural fight?
>> No. 29720
[x] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
>> No. 29721
[x] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.

Pretty odd to get such a task and not be familiar with the Yakumos.
>> No. 29722
[x] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.
Spoopy ghosts.
>> No. 29723
[] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again
>Tohno
>Tohno

NANAYA?!
YAF?!
>> No. 29724
>>29723
Not quite I'm afraid. "Tohno" is how I first read the title of PCB's 2nd stage theme.
So no Nanaya, I'm afraid. Just a city with an old legend.

>>29721
I'm assuming that by "task" you refer to the role as a Hakurei priest? I don't really find it that odd if you think about the roles that's in play. Getting familiar with Yukari would fall to the role of the Head Priest. Ryuko on the other hand, while the only other, is 'just' a priest. He does know of her, though. He just doesn't know her. Ran and Chen on the other hand, he has no reason to know of.
But granted, as the writer I know things about this story you don't which will change the way I look at it. Your argument may be just as valid as mine.
>> No. 29725
[x] There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor on Tokyo.

Doing good so far.
>> No. 29726
[x] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.

Is it Chen Time!?
>> No. 29727
[x] There’s been a recurring breach at Tohno cemetery, and it’s acting up again.

Bring back some tableware for good luck!
>> No. 29728
[X] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
>> No. 29729
[X] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
>> No. 29730
Calling it for Tohno, on the delusion of being able to make it for the 12th.
I'll try, but don't count on it.
>> No. 29732
Welp. Well it was only a delusion. I didn't think I'd make it, it'd just have been neat if I could get two updates out in their same RL dates.
That's not gonna be a thing, by the way. It'd mess up the story if I attempted that.
>> No. 29733
==========
Cemetery around Tohno – Jan 12th, 22:05
==========

A thin layer of snow has formed on the ground.

I take a deep breath and blow warm air into my hand.

Weather like this makes me reconsider whether the extra functionality of these fingerless gloves are worth it. Keeping them free allows me to utilize my techniques and spells with ease. The question is, is it worth freezing my fingers for?

I stare into the night sky, watching the snow slowly descend from the sky. There’s no wind tonight, so the downfall appears to be slower than usual.

I breathe into my hand again, feeling the faint warmth of the mist before it disappears.

I should probably finish up my business here now. At this rate the snow will cover up my charms.

The main anchor of the Iwata prefecture, a tall stone with shimenawa rope tied around it, stands as magnificent as always. Even just being near it, I can feel the raw spiritual energy flowing out of it.

I place my hand on the stone and start to focus. I pour some of my spiritual power onto the cold surface of the rock and it takes the shape of a magic circle. At its core, it is made of a hexagon with each corner connected to every other.

My senses shut down and the world goes dark as I activate the spell. Soon after it lights back up, now entirely perceived through my sixth sense.

The range at which I can now see exceeds that of my normal range, allowing me to perceive more than I ever could on my own. I can see the texture of each snow flake as they fall from the sky, each tassel as they rustle in the weak wind. And of course, I can see the spiritual energy left behind by the beings that have been in the area, including that of the small animals still present.

I trace my hand along the edge of the magic circle. The spiritual energy of the area begins to light up, revealing the trail left behind. I notice the animals moving first; retracing their steps as my perception of time begins to move backwards.

I see people coming to pay their respects. I see a family of squirrels ferrying nuts across the rough pathway.

As I continue to trail back, I eventually reach the previous night. Without finding anything of interest, I continue trailing back even further.

...

I freeze the spell at three nights back.

A youkai suddenly appears out of thin air. Going this far back distorts the spiritual pattern as most of the energy has left or merged with the surrounding area. However, I can easy recognize youkai from human.

I can’t detect any traces of mana in the air, meaning it couldn’t have appeared because of a spell. Any spell powered by spiritual energy would have made it impossible to identify the youkai due to its explosive nature, so I can safely rule out the possibility.

Any other method for instant transportation I know of would draw the attention of the Watcher in charge of this area.

I can safely assume this is the youkai that caused the border to act up. However I can’t identify it as anything more than a youkai. I’ll need to keep watch over the area and hope to catch it red-handed.

I release the spell and my senses return to normal again.

That’s about as much info as I’m going to get from this.

For now I should retreat and prepare for tomorrow night.


==========
Tohno inn – Jan 13th, 12:00
==========

“What?” I don’t even need to look to know who the intruder is.

“I just needed to confirm something.” I glance back at him. “The fact that you are here tells me all I wanted to know.”

“Yet you’re still in my room.” I put down my pen and turn around to face my blond companion.

“Well now that I’ve confirmed it, I want to propose a trade.” He takes a seat on the floor where he stands; both of his youkai servants do the same.

“I don’t think you have anything I’d want, but I can at least hear you out.”

He puts a confident smile on his face. “It’s about that youkai you’re looking for.”

I raise an eyebrow. “You’ve caught my attention.”

“Each time it appeared I decided to keep track of it just to be on the safe side.” He crosses his arms. “I know what it looks like and how it behaves. I believe this is valuable information to you, am I right?”

I rest my head in my hand. “And what’s your price?”

“I want you to tell me all you know about it.” He makes an offering gesture as he says it.

This proposal puts him at a disadvantage. Surely he realizes my knowledge is limited on the subject; which is likely why he offered to tell me about it in the first place. The only plausible reason for him to even suggest it would be to make me do the work for him. The fact this matter is related to Gensokyo means it’s my responsibility, or rather, my shrine’s. Neither he nor any of the others would meddle with it.

I don’t like him. I might even go as far as to say I hate him. I do, however, respect him for what he does even though I disagree in how he does it.

“Alright, I can agree to that.”

“Great.” He leans forward. “The first thing to know about ‘it’ is that it’s actually ‘them’. So far I’ve seen eight different youkai, all bakeneko. I believe there to be more however.

“Secondly,” He sends a quick look to one of his youkai, who then lays out a map in front of us, “one of them appear at the graveyard, here.” He taps on the map. “It then moves here through the main roads,” he traces the road with his finger, “despite being able to almost get there by going in a straight line through these back alleys.”

He continues. “From there it moved to the hill outside the city,” he points to an X marked outside the city, “before returning to the graveyard where it’d then disappear again. Then a few days later another one would show up and repeat the same route exactly.”

“How long would you say they take on this route on average?” I ask.

“Somewhere between two and three hours, I’d wager, depending on the pace at which they walk.” He answers.

Three hours. They’re able to cross the border twice within such a small timeframe. In theory you’d need to wait over a hundred hours at least before you’d be able to cross back over. The fact they’ve found a way to bypass that is worrying.

Crossing during a breach is easy, which is why I’m here to prevent harmful youkai from crossing over. But passing through without our notice isn’t easy.

“I’ve told my part, now it’s your turn.” He packs the map together and hands it to his servant.

“To be honest, I didn’t know anything when you proposed the deal,” I tell him. “However based on what you’ve told me, I believe it’s an organized group which somehow has found a way to enter and leave Gensokyo at will. It’ll take too long to explain the details, but that’s a near impossible feat.”

“So I take it this is an unusual case?” he asks. “But the question remains, why are they doing this and what are they up to?”

“I can’t say for certain.” I shake my head. “If they just wanted to get out, then they have had plenty of chances already. But according to what you said, they always return back to Gensokyo. My bet would be that they’re scouting, but for what purpose, I can’t fathom. You should leave them alone, though if they turn hostile I’ll accept the responsibility.”

“Then I leave this matter in your hand.” With that he gets up and heads for the window where he came from. “Let’s just hope I won’t need to interfere,” he says before jumping out

For all intents and purposes he is doing what he’s supposed to. Yet, I can’t help but hate his guts. Looking down on humans and treating youkai like pawns.

I know the feeling is mutual as well. The way he speaks, it tells me that he has no intention of being anything but a professional with me.

But that’s a given, I guess. I was raised by youkai, the very beings that caused him despair. We’d never get along even if we wanted to.

Well never mind that. I have other things to think about, namely to prepare charms for tonight. Now that I know I'm dealing with a bakeneko, I can prepare specific countermeasures.


==========
Cemetery around Tohno – Jan 13th, 22:20
==========

The snow crunches under my feet as I make my way towards the anchor point, the enshrined shimenawa stone.

It appears no one has been here today. There are no footprints to be found in the snow. Those from yesterday have been covered by a fresh layer from this morning.

I arrive at the anchor point and drop my bag next to it.

I take a look over the graveyard. The sight of the stalwart headstones covered in snow is actually quite beautiful, as creepy as that might sound. The solemn air of this area mixes well with this sort of weather.

I open my bag and pull out the charms and talismans I made earlier. I also prepared some bottles of water, just to be safe. But that said there’s no saying if one of them will come tonight, or tomorrow night or maybe the one after that. And if I’m lucky I may not even have to fight. Still, better prepare for the worst case.

I should be able to use the surrounding guides for the spell. I’d prefer some more easily defined landmarks, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I place my hand in the snow and concentrate on mentally shaping the magic circle. As I let spiritual power flow through my arm, a faint glow begins to emit from beneath the snow. Within seconds the circle has taken form on the ground.

I shake the cold snow off my hand as I go over the specifics for the spell. It’s a far too complex spell to form solely in the mind, even for someone of my skill.

I start inscribing the actual spell into the framework.

...

...

“That’s why I told you, Mary. They just are better.”

I freeze in my tracks.

Voices. Someone is coming.

Staying low I quickly move to the shimenawa stone to hide. It’s both tall and wide enough to hide me no problem; especially so in this darkness.

“Hey, did you see that?”

“What?”

“I thought I saw something move over there.”

“Don’t say things like that, Renko. It’s not funny.”

“Oh, are you scared?”

Judging by their voices they’re girls, and only two of them. It’s too dark to make out which of them is saying what. It’s difficult to even see them from here. I can easily track them by their spiritual energy, so I know where they are.

The pair continues moving closer to my position.

“Are you sure it’s around here?” the first girl asks.

“Yes. There should be a tall stone around here. It has been used as a landmark by other people looking into this legend. It’s a long shot but it’s worth it.” the second girl answers.

The second girl seems to have a slightly rougher voice, while the first one speaks with a bit of an accent.

“Don’t tell me we went all the way out here just for that old legend.” The first girl complains.

“Of course we did. It could be an important clue. I mean think about it. If anyone can find the way to Mayohiga it’s you with your special eyes.” The other girl replies.

They’re getting close. I can almost make out their appearance.

A sudden jolt of pain jumps through my left arm and I instinctively grab it.

What? What the hell is going on? My arm, it’s been unusable for months, so why would it suddenly?

No, this doesn’t hurt. It’s a different kind of pain. It’s not one I feel often, but I’m sure of it. It’s the part of my spirit that’s in my arm that hurt. Not the arm itself.

But why?

“That’s not how they work, and you know it.”

“But we should at least try. I know we’ll get something out of it,” they continue.

I shift my attention back to the two girls. They’re close enough to see by now. One of them has long golden hair and a purple dress. The other has brown hair with black and white clothes.

Another jolt of pain surges through my arm.

Seriously, what’s causing this?

As if to answer my unspoken question, a familiar sounds rings through the air.

A breach?! Now? But we didn’t predict one to appear now. This means it’s one of the youkai. It has to be.

I didn’t have time to finish the spell before these two came along. It’s definitely too late to finish now.

First of all, I should get these girls away. It’s probably going to cost me my chance to confront the youkai, but I can’t afford to get civilians caught up in this again.

I drop my jacket, ignoring the cold as I untie my hair and pull it over my face.

I take a second to adjust my posture to be more sluggish before I walk around the stone. I make a point of going slowly.

“If we end up not finding anything, then I’ll have you treat me the next-” the blonde haired girl stops midsentence.

“What’s the matter, Mary? Cat got your-” she too freezes as she sees me.

I turn to look at them. With the hair covering my eyes, I can’t see anything. I can however make out their moves by reading their spiritual power.

“Smells nice.” I wheeze before I take a step towards them.

I hate doing this. It’s so damn embarrassing.

The blonde girl quickly pulls out a small device which sheds some sparks. A stun-gun? What does she think this is?

I take another step forward.

Both of them take a step backwards.

She waves the stun-gun at me again. I ignore her silent warning and take another step closer. I’ve gone head to head with nightmare fuel. A simple discharger is scaring me.

Their breathing is getting unstable and their spiritual power is starting to radiate faster. They are scared.

I fill my own presence with killing intent. Even normal humans should be able to recognize it.

Just as I’m about to take another step forward, I feel the faint pressure from the breach hit my back. I manage to pick up on the youkai’s spiritual energy before it makes its getaway.

“Get- Get away from us! I’m warning you!” The girl with the stun-gun yells at me.

“Mary,” the brunette takes hole of her friend’s arm, “forget defending, just get ready to run.”

The blonde girl quickly shifts her eyes to her friend before looking back at me.

I let out a single chuckle before I ready myself for a dash.

They’re tensing up. One last push should do it.

I stomp with my front foot and leap towards them.

The girls flinch before they start running into the dark.

In a matter of seconds they’ve left the range at which I can see them.

I have to hand it to them, they run fast.

I walk back to my stuff. I find my ribbon and tie back my hair again. This may be one of the few uses long hair actually has. I whip my jacket to get the snow off it before putting it back on.

It might still not be too late with the youkai. I don’t need a spell to see the trail of something that was here less than five minutes ago. But I don’t know if I can catch up with a cat. Still it’s worth a try.

I pick up the rest of my stuff and walk to where the breach happened. It appears to have been a short one. It’s already closed up again. Maybe it’d be worth it to just follow it for the chance of finding out how it returns over the border. That is, if I can catch up to it.

I close my eyes and focus on my spiritual sense.

Yes, I can still sense it.

I start going after it with quick steps.

==========

I find it sitting on top of the hill staring towards the moon.

I put my hand into my pocket, slipping on the bracelet I prepared as a charm earlier today before I make my way towards the twin tailed cat. Of course it quickly picks up on my presence.

It stands as it gets ready to run. Before it can even get a chance, I draw a line by letting my fingers cut through the air. A barrier rises behind it. I draw another two lines, cutting off its escapes completely.

“Are you willing to talk or should we just skip straight ahead to ripping out each other’s throats?” I stand before it. With my eyes it appears in the form of a young boy, no older than thirteen years. But to the normal human, it looks like nothing more than the average cat.

“You haven’t given me much of a choice have you?” his ears twitch.

I pull out one of the water bottles and place it besides me. “Well I’d rather avoid a fight if possible. But on the other hand I can’t just let you walk away like nothing happened.” I place another bottle on my other side. “That’s why I’m asking you to calmly answer my questions. Neither of us would get a scratch and you’d be able to carry on without a problem.”

“And if I refuse?” He looks around, trying to find a way to escape.

“In that case you’d leave me little choice.” I place the final bottle right in front of me.

“Well, I’m afraid to tell you that big sis wouldn’t like it if I said something I shouldn’t have.” He keeps his eyes locked on something behind me.

“I see.” I raise my hand and assume a speed based defensive stance. If my previous encounters with bakeneko are any indication, they rely on speed for their attacks.

Without warning he makes a beeline to get past me.

I kick one of the bottles into his path causing him to stop abruptly. He doesn’t stay still for long though.

I dash into his path to stop him. He ignores my attempt to hinder him and continues charging straight ahead.

I throw a wide swing in an attempt to stop him. He jumps up and grabs my arm. His claws rip through my skin as he uses my arm to swing past me.

Ignoring the pain I make a dash for the two remaining bottles. I kick the closest one as hard as I can, sending it flying towards the escaping cat.

The bottle hits the frozen earth with the water within exploding everywhere.

It didn’t fly far enough.

Tsk.

Well that was a failure.

If those two girls hadn’t interrupted me back at the graveyard, then I could have finished it without incident.

No, that’s just an excuse. I should be able to adapt to changes like this. The circumstances don’t matter. The fact is I let it get away.

At least I wasn’t left empty handed. I learned quite a bit from this trip. I came out alive so I can always return another day. They’ll probably be more cautious now, though.

For now I should return.

I grab my left arm.

I’d also like to know what caused that. It’s never happened before.


==========
Jan 20th
==========

[] There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor in Tokyo.
[] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
[] I told Miss Yumemi that I’d be back. With nothing on my schedule, now would be a good time.


Thanks for the wait, and sorry for the delay. The original draft didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, at least not in a way I was satisfied with, so I had to rewrite it a few times.
>> No. 29735
[] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.

Just a guess, but I'd assume that those youkai would attempt to use that breach as another opening to enter and leave. I'd want to close that before the job get's too hard.
>> No. 29736
[x] There’s been some unusual activity regarding the border’s anchor in Tokyo.
>> No. 29738
[x] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
Abandoned = spooky. I love spooky.
>> No. 29744
[x] I told Miss Yumemi that I’d be back. With nothing on my schedule, now would be a good time.
>> No. 29746
[x] I told Miss Yumemi that I’d be back. With nothing on my schedule, now would be a good time.
>> No. 29749
Calling it for
[x] An abandoned shrine between Osaka and Kyoto is showing signs of opening a breach soon.
because it reached the tie first.

I'll try to have the next update ready for 1st of March, but I make no promises.
>> No. 29761
Gah, it appears I have to delay this for longer than I care to.

So I actually managed to get it ready for 1st of Match (but who's gonna believe that). However, I was unable to line my schedule up with my proofreader's, so we didn't manage to get much done at all. This week he didn't log on at all because of what I assume to be work.

I cannot say when it'll be ready for release, only that it's going to interfere with my intended upload schedule.
I apologize for the wait.
>> No. 29775
File 142822102461.png - (658.08KB, 621x1839, dd68018f569acf3abe7ea57fa4ab761f.png) [iqdb]
29775
==========
Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 11:20
==========

During my training as a priest, I’ve come to learn a lot of things. A lot of it has become common knowledge to me, to the point where I don’t even have to think about it anymore, I just know it. One of those things is the knowledge surrounding shrines.

I know that most shrines are build based upon a general blueprint. This means that as a minimum they all share a few traits, like the kind of buildings they have, and where they are in relation to one another.

Thanks to this piece of knowledge, I can navigate just about any shrine I come across. Even when factoring in the differences between the shrines, by using a bit of ‘common knowledge’ I’ve gained as a priest, figuring my way around different shrines is easy. Even if I haven’t been there before, I’ll be able to figure things out with little effort.

Granted, that doesn't mean I know everything about shrines.

I realize that shrines are built on places with high concentration of spiritual energy. But what I don’t get is why those places all seem to be at the top of hills or mountains. If it was just for prestige that they were built on high ground, I’d be able to understand it. So when the concentrated energy is at the foot of the mountain, why would they build the shrine up the mountain, away from said energy?

It’s not like I’m complaining or anything. Walking up a few hundred steps is nothing to me. My daily workout alone exhausts me more than a few steps. I just don’t get why.

By building a shrine, you give a god the ability to influence the world more than they would on their own. But it comes at the cost of mobility. The god loses the ability to travel within the area where the shrine has any influence. The exception of course is the shrine itself.

What I’m getting at is that the god who resided in this shrine couldn’t reach the spiritual energy at the foot of the mountain. Contrary to what some people believe, faith alone is not enough to sustain a god. It’s like nutrition, but it lacks substance. That’s why they also need spiritual energy to feed upon otherwise they’d starve to death.

Placing a shrine right outside of reach of a source of spiritual power is pure torture.

It’s no wonder this shrine became abandoned. But who abandoned it first? The god who was starved by his people or the people who gave up on their god?

I believe I already have an answer, but I’d rather not jump to conclusions. Besides, that’s not why I’m here.

After it was abandoned it was decided that it would be made into a new anchor. Given how few people ever come here, as well as it being a known magical landmark, it was ideal for the purpose.

Since it was decided only a few years back, I was present for the ritual as well. In fact, I was the one who performed it.

: Or at least that's what I was told at the time. It was later revealed to me that I was only doing the preparation work. Looking back, it was quite obvious that I wouldn’t be able to pull off making a new anchor. That’s something which is simply beyond my power. But I’m satisfied with what I did. Even if all I did was making it easier for the Youkai Sage Yakumo to do her work.

I stop climbing the stairs.

That fox lady. Her name was Yakumo.

I plant my hand square on my face, and I just keep it there for a few seconds, letting the pain sink in.

How the hell did I not draw that connection? I mean it’s not like I don’t know it. I may not know much about her, but what I do know should have triggered some alarm at the back of my head. I mean she’s the Great Sage of Gensokyo for crying out loud.

Now that’s embarrassing, that’s really embarrassing.

What’s done is done. I can’t dwell on it. I’ll just have to apologize if I get the chance. But for now I should focus on the task at hand. Up these stairs there is an anchor which will soon breach. I’m here to minimize the damage as much as possible.

I continue up the stairs.

As I approach the top of this needlessly long flight of steps, I begin to hear voices.

I'll have to deal with civilians again? This is the third time in a row now. Well at least they are not dropping in right in the middle of things this time, so I’ll have time to convince them to leave.

Judging by the sound, I can tell it is two girls, probably around the late high school years. It’s typical to find that age group playing around here a lot. I’d have expected it to be boys out here instead of girls, though.

Actually, I think I recognize those voices. I heard them recently too.

As I reach the top I’m greeted with the sight of two girls bent over some machinery. And sure enough, one of them has that long characteristic flame colored braid. Now that I think about it, she had that same hairstyle back at New Years as well. I didn’t really pay it much mind back then, but looking at it, it's actually a rather unique hairstyle.

Then I think it should be safe to assume that the blonde girl next to her is the same girl from New Years as well. She looks entirely different than I remember her though. Not sure if it’s the pig tails or the sailors uniform.

This saves me the trouble of going to Kyoto afterwards.

The girls are too busy doing their thing to notice me approaching.

“I think we’re about ready to start testing it,” the professor says.

“I hope so. It’s hard to set up this kind of equipment,” the little sailor says.

“What are you two doing?” I ask.

"They both flinch at my question.

“What- Who- You! Don’t sneak up on us like that,” she places a hand on her heart, as she tries to calm down again.

“I wasn’t sneaking. I walked quite boldly actually,” I tell her.

“Like hell you were. We’d have heard you,” the short sailor almost yells at me.

“I did, you two were just too busy with whatever it is you’re doing,” I extend my hand, offering to help Yumemi up from the ground. “Anyway, I’m surprised you remembered me. You saw me for like, what, a few hours. Not to mention I just left.”

“It’d be hard to forget such a handsome face, even if I wanted to,” she puffs out her chest as if she just said something to be proud of. “But, well,” she averts her eyes, “your name, it has kinda of escaped me.”

My name? Which one did I use again? It was the one that sounds like Coach’s name, Konoha I believe. Yeah, that sounds right.

“Konoha, and don’t worry I haven’t forgotten yours.” Someone who’s still unknown in the world of magic, yet is able to develop new spells isn’t someone you’d easily forget.

“Ah,” she snaps her finger, “that was it. I was sure it had something to do with leaves.” She puts her hands on her hip. “Now, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you just leave like that?”

“I had stuff to do and places to be,” I tell her, “that’s all I can say, I’m afraid.” She grunts, apparently unsatisfied with my answer. “I said I’d be back, however. You helped me out, so I owe you a favor.”

“Oh, that. Don’t mention it, it was nothing,” she dismisses the notion.

“I just can’t leave it at that. I just wouldn’t feel right.” I pull out my phone. With a few button pushes I pull out a number from my contacts and show it to her. “Use this number to call me if there’s ever anything you think I can help you with. However, this phone is used for work so don’t just call for the sake of small talk.”

“Huh, seriously? W-Well then don’t mind if I do.” She hesitantly takes me phone as she’s typing on her own.

“If you two are done flirting over there,” Chiyuri, I think her name was, speaks up, “it’s ready to be powered on.”

“Ah, great.” She throws my phone back at me before running over to whatever it is they’ve setup.

“By the way, what are you two even doing all the way out here?” I put away my phone. As I look back up, I’m met with a stare from both of them. They both have a strange expression plastered on their faces, one I’d only be able to describe as somewhere between dumbfounded, panicked and surprised. A truly fascinating display of what the facial muscles are actually capable of.

They look at each other for a couple of seconds before looking back at me.

“That’s, um,” the professor starts, “you see-” her gaze fervently jumps around.

“Research,” her short friend spits out.

“Yeah, research, that’s it. Sorry, the word just escaped me for a moment.” She grins as she scratches her nose.

Girls, I know I don’t talk much with humans, but I was raised by a fox. I can spot a tanuki from more than a mile away. Catching a lie is nothing. But sure, I’ll play along. I'm not telling the truth either after all.

“I see. Then I shall stay out of the way.” I pocket my hand. “I’ll just do what I came here to do and be on my way.”

She hesitates for a moment before replying with a “yeah.” Taking a deep breath she faces her friend. “When you’re ready, fire up the generator and pray to the gods we sat this thing up right,” she commands in a slightly raised voice.

The sailor salutes. “Yes, ma'am” she replies in an equally enthusiastic voice.

I leave the two of them to their thing and make my way to the shrine building.

Since we managed to predict this breach a fair amount ahead of time, I can prepare a big spell. I need these two to leave before I can do much of anything, though.

I slide open the front door to the shrine. The neglect of care is starting to show. The paper on the doors has holes here and there, and there are moldy spots every now and then. A rather thick layer of dust has gathered across the floor along with a few dry leaves from this autumn.

It almost hurts to see. While shrines are on the decline, only getting by because of government funding, our shrine is self-sufficient. Despite that we’re better than this shrine appears to ever have been.

“Fuck, it crashed,” I hear one of them yell from outside.

“Chiyuri, watch your language,” the other reply. “Shit, the generator went out.”

“Yumemi, watch your language,” she retorts.

After a second the two of them starts laughing.

What an odd pair.

I slide open the door to the inner shrine.

The first thing you see when entering the room is the large statue at the very back. It resembles a, um, ‘powerfully built’ man sitting on top of a mountain of balls of some kind. He wears a strange flat hat and has an unnaturally wide face with a rather distinctive smile.

Smaller statues are lined up against the walls of the room as well. From what I can tell, each of them represents a mouse.

There’s no doubt about it. This shrine was dedicated to the third god of fortune, Daikokuten, the god of wealth. It is as apparent now as it was last time; which means that nothing has been removed since I last came here a few years back.

But that’s not what’s interesting here. The reason I came here is the altar with Daikoku's mallet on. That is what we made the anchor with. That was what we tied as the anchor.

I run my hand over it, brushing off some of the dust.

I don’t sense any changes in the spiritual energy of the area. Nor do I detect the presence of anything in the near vicinity, besides the two girls of course.

It should be safe to take shelter here at the shrine. Doing so will allow me to get to work early tomorrow and hopefully continue uninterrupted the entire day. That would be enough time to set up the seal I want.

So I’ll just have to wait out these girls for now. They’ll leave again soon, I’m sure.


==========
Road to the Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 16:50
==========

Seriously, that girl is too damn trusting. Out of nowhere she just asks me to run errands for her.

And I’m too damn kind for actually doing it.

The store wasn’t just around the corner either. There’s quite a way to the nearest town from here. The cold doesn’t help much either.

Oh well. It’s not like I could be doing something more productive right now. And if this helps them leave sooner, then that much the better.

Although I probably shouldn’t complain too much. If she hadn’t asked, I’d likely just have sat back at the shrine and done nothing while I waited.

From here I get a better much view of the sunset than I’d get at the shrine. It’s actually quite rare for me to just stand back and watch like this, now that I think about it. I’m usually busy doing one thing or another. Either it’s training, studying or resting, and in a lot of cases rehabbing after yet another major injury.

For what it’s worth, it’s quite nice to just relax.

[] Stay and enjoy the view for a while longer.
[] Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.
>> No. 29778
>>29775
[x] Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.

PROFESSOR NEEDS FOOD BADLY
>> No. 29780
[x] Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.
>> No. 29781
[] Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.
>> No. 29783
[X] Stay and enjoy the view for a while longer.

Humans can live a week without food if they have a steady supply of clean water nearby. She'll live.
>> No. 29784
File 14285397771.jpg - (576.09KB, 1120x630, Feed the Yumemi.jpg) [iqdb]
29784
>>29783
Why not indulge her? The view isn't warm and cuddly.
>> No. 29790
Calling it for
[x] Bring the professor her instant food before she ‘starves’, as she claimed.
>> No. 29810
File 143128247681.jpg - (396.35KB, 1024x637, 5147597993_8ab30d9348_b.jpg) [iqdb]
29810
==========
Road to the Abandoned Shrine, Osaka – Jan 20th, 16:55
==========

From here I’m able to see Osaka in its entirety. I can see every river going through it, out to the ocean, every building as they begin to light up, changing the look of the city. It’s beautiful. Not in the same sense as nature would be beautiful, but rather as a giant piece of art; truly a sight worth stopping for.

I push myself up from the railing. I probably shouldn’t just stand around. After all, they kinda rushed me off to get food. Granted they probably would be hungry after working on that machine all day.

I pick up the bag of groceries and continue my lazy walk up the mountain.

---

I stop in front of the stairs.

I have a bad feeling. There’s something about the air that doesn’t feel right. It feels empty and silent, yet full of unheard screams.

I start walking up the stairs only to immediately get the air knocked out of me.

I stagger backwards, gasping for air.

What the hell was that, some kind of magic? But I don’t sense anything resembling a spell in the area. Nor do I sense any youkai in the vicinity at all. This just spells trouble- Shit. The girls!

I dash forward, ignoring whatever got to me before and force my way up the stairs.

“These numbers are amazing, Chiyuri.”

“I knew picking a shrine would be a good idea.”

What the hell? The air is disordered. What’s going on?

I quickly scan the temple court for the girls. I find them bending over their machine.

Can’t they see it? Or have they just not noticed it? But I’m seeing this, not sensing it. Anyone should be able to see it.

No, that machine. The distortion is happening right above it.

“Alright, that’s enough. Turn it off, Chiyuri.”

“You got it-” Just as she turns around, her gaze meets mine. “I think we have a small problem.”

“Hm? What is- oh.” Yumemi freezes as she sees me. “Konoha, I didn’t expect you to be back so fast.” She chuckles nervously as she says it.

The machine is turned off, and immediately it feels like a burden has been lifted from my body.

The bag drops from my -hand. “Okazaki, what was that?”

“I told you, just call me Yumemi.” She makes her way to me, skipping a few steps.

“I don’t care about that!” I yell. “What the hell just happened?” I can feel the anger filling my words.

“That’s- Well you see- I-” She falls silent, just looking at the ground for a few seconds. “I can’t tell you. I’m sorry.”

Anger?

“Don’t apologize, Yumemi. We have the right to keep secrets.” Her little assitant joins the conversation, wiping her hands clean in a rag.

I’m angry?

“But Chiyuri-” she tries to argue but is cut short.

Why am I angry?

“No ‘but’s. He’s the one who should appologize for yelling at you. We have just as much right to keep secrects as he does.” She glares at me through every word.

I barely know them, why would I get angry over something this trivial?

“No listen you-” I bite my own tongue to stop myself.

The last thing I want is to say something I might regret. They have yet to pass the point-of-no-return. They can still turn away from the world of magic.

I take a deep breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” I walk past them, towards the shrine. “Don’t bother saying goodbye when you leave. I need to be alone.”

I have yelled at people before because they wouldn’t listen, despite their life being in danger. Yet, I’ve never gotten angry at them before. I barely even get upset over my opponents.

Yet why did I feel so uneasy about these two?

I don’t get it.

==========
Hakurei Shrine, Outside World – Jan 21th, 18:38
==========

“How the hell could you think that walking home was a good idea, with a broken leg?!” He hammers his hands on the table.

“It was either a broken leg or a broken arm, and I need one more than the other.” I tell him.

“Can it. I’m not in the mood for your half-assed sass. Just,” he pinches the bridge of his nose “Just get on the table and let me see what I can do.”

“There’s no need to be so upset about it.” I limp my way to the operating table.

“You walk in with a swollen purple leg, tell me it’s broken and that you walked back here from the opposite edge of Kyoto Prefecture.” He walks up to me. “It’s impossible to put into words just how stupid that is. Listen Ryuko,” he grab a hold of my face, making sure we have eye-contact, “I’ll tell you this again.

“You are only a human. You are physically inferior to youkai. And that’s just how it is.” he lets go. “Which is why we gave you a weapon that beats brawns. Now try and use it once in a while and think before you do anything stupid.” He prepares a syringe with the usual elixir in it. “Now lie still and let me work.”


==========

I was banned from moving around at all for a few days.

Apparently the bone shards had spread further than I imagined during the initial impact. They had to be removed manually before the healing could start.

Afterwards I had to be put in rehabilitation. The nature of healing magic causes the muscles in the given area to weaken slightly. Healing is one of the schools of magic which I sadly don’t know much about, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you why this reaction is caused.

I quickly got back in shape and started a new training schedule meant to help me get better at one armed combat. My ambidextrous style allows me much flexibility, but in return I depend on both hands.

We didn’t address this issue sooner because if we didn’t I’d be stuck with this useless arm for so long, and that I should be able to wing it. But alas, we were proven wrong. It may be too late to start getting used to only one arm now, as for all I know, tomorrow may be the day I get the other one back.

I consider myself quite lucky actually. We didn’t pick up on any activity since I got back, so I had plenty of time to recover.

It wasn’t long after that I got a call from the Watcher in Kyoto prefecture. He wished to buy some information regarding spirits, and that means I’d be the best to ask.

Everything was going along smoothly. Until I got a call back from the shrine again. A breach was opening here again.



====================
I had originally planned on making this update longer. However, I just got a new computer last month, so I had to deal with setting that up the way I wanted before I could get back to writing.

I cut out the last part of the update so I could make it for the deadline I try to keep (and I still missed it), so there won't be a vote this time. Well I could make one, but it'd be pointless, and I'd like to avoid calling for pointless votes.

Upside is I can start working on the next update already (and I've been itching to write this one for some time).

Thank you for your understanding and enjoy.
>> No. 29812
>>29810
waiting warmly
>> No. 29821
File 143374523851.jpg - (1.49MB, 2000x1412, 7257606b3e9574f1da5e7bd4b8e12ad7.jpg) [iqdb]
29821
==========
Near Kiyotaki Tunnel, Kyoto - February 13th, 23:55
==========

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

It just had to be now.

I lean down deep and place my hand on the asphalt as I make a sharp turn.

I got the call around twenty minutes ago. The breach could open at any time now.

I bring my hand up in front of me, forming the base sign. The image of the first spell circle takes shape within my mind. As soon as it’s done, I begin forming the next, without losing focus of the first.

I grind to a halt as I reach the last turn.

There’s a rift in the air, right in the middle of the tunnel entrance. The breach is starting.

“Kai!” I yell from the top of my lungs. The barrier raises up along with my hand, surrounding me, the street, the tunnel and the breach.

The air shatters.

And nothing happens.

The barrier is up, and the breach is happening inside it. Everything is contained.

I let out a sign of relief.

It doesn’t appear that a youkai tried to crossed over.

I’m not in perfect shape yet. I wouldn’t be able to guess how well I’d fare against even a feral youkai.

Since there doesn’t appear to be anything to do, I should probably reinforce the barrier, just to be safe. It wasn’t exactly forged with stability this time around.

I walk over to the wall and almost sit down as something shoots out from inside the tunnel.

I instinctively kick the wall to jump back, avoiding the thing.

It flies back into the tunnel before I can see what it is.

So the inside was also included in the barrier? And here I thought had enough mercy left to give me a break.

It flies back out from the tunnel, coming straight for my head.

I lean back, letting it fly right over me.

A tentacle? With a handsome guy reflected by it’s silver skin? That’s new.

I let myself fall to the side, rolling out of it’s immediate reach. I manage to get back up just in time to see it disappear into the tunnel again.

What the hell kind of youkai is that? I’ve never even heard of anything like this. Tentacles, sure, but silver skin?

“What the hell is going on?”

Oh fucking hell.

I turn around to face the voice.

A brunette in a button-up shirt, and a blonde in a long purple dress.

Just what I needed, civilians. And here I was getting worried that facing an unknown type of youkai while still recovering was going to be too easy.

A sudden surge pulses through my body, warning me.

“Get down!” I jump at them.

From the corner of my eye, I see the tentacle shoot towards the newcomers.

I grab the brunette by the shirt and throw her at the ground, just before I collide with the blonde, tackling her down too.

A burning sensation runs across my back, like a burning whip just hit it.

I roll over and get back on my feet. Suppressing the urge to scream in pain, I grab ahold of the ladies and drag them behind the edge of the wall, to cover.

“Wha- what is happening? What’s going on?” The blonde girl almost screams in panic.

I can’t blame her. I want to scream too.

“Name?” I ask her.

“What?” A look of what I can best describe as disbelief quickly finds it way to her face.

“Names! Give me your names now!” I yell.

“M-Maribel Hearn.” She tells me.

“Usami Renko.” The brunette follows.

“All right, girls,” I steady my voice again, “I don’t know how you got here, but you’re are not supposed to be here. I only have time to tell you this once, so listen carefully. Do not forget your names. Whatever happens, make sure that you always keep it in mind. Now just stay here and don’t move.”

Without waiting for a response I get up and run back out to the youkai. If I’m not careful, it’ll try to break the barrier at the other end of the tunnel.

It responds immediately, by shooting out a tentacle at me.

I raise my hand as I turn my side towards it. Preparing myself, I quickly cast an enchantment.

Awareness- Speed - Reflex

The world is engulfed by a blue tint. Every little move is highlighted, clear as day to me.

Just as it gets within range I turn every muscle in my body, driving the back of my hand into it’s soft body. Its skin stinging against my own for a second before the tentacle is sent flying against the brick wall.

That hit just now, it felt off. The body, something is up with that silver body. Not to mention it hasn’t shown itself yet. It’s keeping hidden inside the tunnel.

Well that’s fine by me, I just have to hold out until the breach is over. If it wants to go easy on me, so be it.

A smaller tentacle shoots out from the one burrowed in the wall, swinging at me like a whip.

I deflect it’s attack by knocking it away like before.

Just as I hit it, another one comes swinging at me.

It catches me off guard, forcing me to parry it upwards with my elbow.

And yet another one comes at me along with the first one, which have recovered.

What the hell is up with this youkai.

I’m about to step back just as one of the girls comes storming out, screaming with a stick clenched tightly in both hands.

That fucking moron!

All three tentacles retract back into the large one before shooting out a single large one towards the brunette.

Not hesitating for a second, I leap towards her.

With an unclear mind, she reacts by swinging the stick down, hitting my nape right before I knock her out of the way.

She falls over against the wall, but doesn’t stay down for long. She quickly tries to get back on her feet, but freezes as she lays her eyes on me.

Without a single shred of doubt, I know exactly what cased that terrorized expression to rise.

Perhaps it’s the shock numbing me from the pain, which allows me to remain reasonable, or perhaps it’s a sign that it’s happened a few too many times.

I look down.

Silver going in from one side and out through the other.

My stomach has been pierced completely.

It’s a problem for later.

I plant my feet solid on the ground and once again twisting every muscle in my legs I can still feel, forcing myself to turn around completely. Using the swing, I throw a wide hook at the tentacle, breaking it off cleanly.

Breaking it off all too easily.

It’s- It’s liquid.

A conscious blob of liquid silver.

That’s- It can’t possibly be a youkai.

The tentacle starts wriggling around, releasing a high-pitched ringing which I can only assume to be a scream.

Tough luck buddy, but if you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t hurt others. I’d have been happy to leave you alone if you’d just stayed-

The piece stuck inside me starts to tremble.

Before I get to react, it retracts itself into my gaping stomach.

A feeling like a thousand burning needles stinging me inside out spreads from my core.

Oh no you fucking don’t.

Purge

It immediately expands, forcing it’s way out of the holes again.

As it leaves my body again, it falls to the ground, forming a lifeless pool a silver.

I use my limited knowledge of healing magic to quickly patch up my wounds, to prevent a bleed-out.

“I thought I told you to stay back.” I look over at the brunette. “This is a fight between two monsters. Humans like yourself should stay away.” I stand up, wiping off a bloodstain from my lip. “Unless of course you think you have the guts to take my place, because I think I just lost them.”

That damn thing destroyed my stomach completely. My organs are damaged, but still functional for the time being. I’d say I have eight hours left without treatment.

“Oi, blonde! Come pick up your friend before she gets hurt.” I yell back at the girl still hiding.

I learned something valuable about that thing just now. It’s clear that it’s not a youkai. The way the tentacle died revealed that it was made of a physical material. But it clearly has a conscience as well.

It’s a golem, a living spell.

Who made it and why, I don’t care about. It invaded my turf and attacked bystanders with the intend of drawing blood. It’s a threat too large to let go.

I’ll have to exterminate it.

Luckily for me, a living spell is still a spell. And I handle mages quite well.

The worst thing that could happen would be my death, but then I’d be sure to take it down with me.

But unlike that, I have a fail-safe.

I look back. The blonde girl is trying to wake up her companion. Apparently she fainted. Who’d blame her. She just had the front scene to what’d amount to murder under normal circumstances.

The golem has been silent for a while now. Has it realised I can repel it’s attacks? Maybe it’s waiting for a chance to counter. Or perhaps it’s just scared.

Either way, it’s crossed the line.

I channel all of my mana into the palm of my hand in preparation for my final spell.

I charge ahead.

It responds by sending it’s tentacles straight at me.

I sway my body, grazing it.

Killing it is the easy option.

I jump out of the way of another incoming attack. Using my momentum, I kick off the wall, jumping over it’s attack entirely.

But I hate taking lives. I don’t have the right to kill. Yet I need to.

Sidestepping the last of its attacks, I’m within range.

I stand face to face with the golem.

A wolf-like appearance with the tentacles stretching from its tail.

It takes but one glance to realize what state it’s in. Tattered fur, cuts and missing lumps here and there.

I do not know it’s story, nor will I be able to learn it.

May the gods forgive me.

“Spell Break!” I bring my hand up in front of its face as I announce my spell.

Information immediately floods my mind; every calculation used to make it up, each circle made to drive it, each instruction that allows it to think independently.

I break the circle that makes up it’s core.

With it’s fragile source disrupted, the golem stops moving, freezing mid-motion.

I hate it. I hate taking a life. I hate how easy it is to take lives.

A sudden sharp pain in my throat forces me on my knees, coughing.

I manage to stop at the sight of the crimson splatter I created.

I stare at it for a few seconds before the realisation hits me.

I’m dying.

How the fuck could I forget?

How long did I have again? Seven, eight hours? Not enough time to make it back to the shrine.

Not to mention I also have to deal with the girls.

Not only did they witness this encounter, but they also got caught in my barrier. There’s no telling how long their psyche can resist the effect of this space.

Help. I need help.

Doc! He’s the best magus I know.

My phone, were did I put it?

I quickly tap every pocket I have to check. But it’s not there.

The bag. I left it in my bag.

I try to stand up, but my legs refuse to move. Completely drained of adrenalin, they are unable to cope with the damage they’ve build up.

Oh yeah, I hadn’t fully recovered yet.

“Hey, girl!” I yell out across the now dead silent street. She flinches at my call. “Bring me my bag, would you?”

“What?” She yells back.

“The bag. At the other side of the intersection. Could you bring it here?” I instinctively tried to point, but my body still refuses to listen.

“Oh, right.” She checks on her friend before running off to my bag.

Strangely enough, it’s not the pain of getting beaten I hate the most from these fights. No, it’s the exhaustion from pushing my body despite it screaming at me to stop.

“Here.” She drops the bag right in front of me. “Just what the hell are you?”

“Just another monster, I’m afraid.” I tell her. “But unlike that thing there,” I nod back at the tunnel, “I don’t want you humans involved.” No time, I need to call Doc. I need to get them checked fast. “Now, if you would please find my phone for me. It’s in the pocket on your left.”

“Why should I help you then?” She takes a step backwards. “If you’re one of them, then how can I trust you?”

“Oh, yeah, right. I mean it’s not like you asked me to save your friend by taking a mortal wound in her place. I see where you’re coming from.” I let the sarcasm go, and lock eyes with her. “The barrier will dispel in a few minutes. Take your friend and leave. Speak to no one about what you saw. That is your safest option.”

She stands there, staring at me for a few seconds before running back to the intersection where the two of them took cover.

I really can’t blame her for choosing to flee. Had I been in her position, I probably would have done the same. But I can fight, I can survive. That’s why I won’t turn my back on those who can’t.

Now, how long will it take before I can move? I can’t fancy much time just sitting here. I need to get ahold of Doc as soon as possible.

I close my eyes to rest. Anything to speed up my recovery. That’s my best move right now.

“Here.” I look up and see the blonde girl stand there with my phone in hand.

“I thought you’d run away.” I tell her.

“I’m here now. Want my help or not?” She looks away, breaking eye contact.

I let out a single chuckle. That’s the first time a normal human has had the guts to talk back after witnessing this hell. “Quick dial number 2 and turn on speakers.”

She fiddles with the pone, mumbling something like ‘who even uses quick dial any more’ before the phone starts rin

The other end answers the phone, but says nothing.

“Doc, I have a little problem. I had to take extreme measures to ensure a couple of civilians safety. Took a beating in the process.” I’d like to go into more detail, but the less this human knows, the better. That’s another thing we have to take care of.

A sigh can be heard from the other end. “How bad?”

“One of the fainted, the other appears fine considering the circumstances. I can’t move my body at all. Think I have ‘bout seven hours or so.” I tell him.

“Right, I’ll be there in a second. Don’t hang up.” The other end is being shuffled around a bit before it goes silent.

Static fills the line and sparks starts flying from the phone.

A bright flash appears for a second.

Before me stands a golden furred nine-tailed fox, dressed lousily in a dougi.

He takes a quick looks around, taking in the scene. The brunette lying unconscious at the end of the street. The blonde who fell over due to surprise. The silver golem frozen solid in the tunnel. And lastly he looks at me, giving me that look.

“What a mess you made this time. And then you just expect me to come and clean it up for you.” He shrugs. “I thought we had raised you better than that.”

“What’s going on? Seriously, what the hell-” The blonde girl is cut of by Doc.

He snaps his finger at her and she collapse on the spot.

“Sorry, missy, but I’m not in the mood.” He then turns to face me. “I’ll take care of them, so just worry about yourself for the time being.” He then holds out his hand and snaps his fingers-

==========

Where am I?

What happened?

The fight. I killed it. Couldn’t move. Called Doc. The girls.

The girls!

I try to sit up, but a quick reminder jolts through my body.

“Oh, you’re awake.” A voice breaks through the darkness.

“Doc.”

“Seven hours my ass.” He plants his fist in my stomach. Hard. “Transmuted silver. It was combined with another substance sharing too many elements to identify. Certainly highly poisonous, though, that’s for certain.” I hear his footsteps walk away from me. “I cannot tell you how close I was to forcefully activating the rune on your chest. Without treatment you’d have had ‘bout an hour at best.”

“The girls?” I manage to ask.

“Girls? C’mon kid. I’ve had to shut down a lot of your body’s functions just to operate on you. You’re not even patched up completely yet, and you’re still worrying about some strangers?” The sound of a drawer being slammed shut sounds through the room. “Dammit I need a smoke. Worry about yourself once in a while. You’re not invincible just because you have me.” And with that a door closes.

...

Didn’t he say I wasn’t patched up yet?


==========


[] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)
[] Yumemi’s favour (Kyoto, Feb 27)
[] Contract for hire (Tokyo , May 1)
>> No. 29822
Poor guy. Doc keeps giving him shit for things beyond his control. Oh well, I think he realizes that, or he wouldn't heal him in the first place.

[x] Delivery for Are

It feels like this is building up to something. If that something is his departure from the human world, the confrontation with those two girls, or both, I don't know.
>> No. 29823
[x] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)
>> No. 29824
[x] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)

Seems like it's going in order. Might as well start from the beginning.
>> No. 29825
[x] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)

I've got NO idea what's going on, but it's pretty cool.
>> No. 29826
[x] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)

Do we still have enough time for Yumemi's favour if we take this option?
>> No. 29827
>>29826
No. Not this time around at least. You'll get another chance later, though, when it becomes relevant again.
I assume you guys have figured out who 'Are' is (not like it was that hard). Getting to them and back is a little more than a two day trip to the next town over.
Votes won't close until Sunday night, so feel free to change yours if you feel the need with this new information.
>> No. 29828
>>29827
Here, changing to
[x] Yumemi’s favour (Kyoto, Feb 27)
>> No. 29829
[x] Delivery for Are (Hakurei Shrine, Feb 25)

Sounds like this guy keeps on getting tasks that are beyond him. I knew Yukari was lazy but not THIS lazy.
>> No. 29837
Calling the vote for
[x] Delivery for Are
Starting to write right away.
>> No. 29847
File 143631534196.jpg - (941.35KB, 880x1290, 88d09eb5e4bd184a3a018dcbed7cee72.jpg) [iqdb]
29847
==========
Hakurei Shrine - Feb 25, 08:46
==========

“Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.” I push myself up one last time.

“And done.” He says as he takes a whiff of his pipe. “Now that you’ve had a feel for it, how’s the arm coming along?”

“I’m only just starting to feel the exhaustion. My knuckles feel a bit rusty, but otherwise I feel back up to speed.” I tell him. “But that said, can you get off soon?”

“Oh, right, of course.” I feel the strokes of wind blow down on me as Coach takes to the air. “Stretch out. We’re done with the physical training for today." He lands on the veranda, folding his wings back in. "Doc would kill me if he knew I had you exercise before he’s given the green light.” He takes another whiff before chuckling. “Actually, he’d probably kill me regardless.”

“Mhm.” I answer absentmindedly.

“Oi, kid, there you are.” Speak of the sun and it shall shine. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Just remembered I need to be somewhere.” Coach says as he makes his way into the shrine.

Doc just looks at him with a raised eyebrow as he makes his way to me. “Here, these should prove helpful to you.” He pulls a knife out of the bag he’s holding and hands it to me.

‘Knife’ might be the wrong term. The blade is thin, too fragile to really cut through anything without breaking. Just holding it, I can feel the balance is off, not by much but enough to make it impossible to be thrown accurately.

However, this fragrance, “Silver?” I ask.

“The very same I removed from you,” he states almost proudly. “I went to the village to get it purified. They should prove useful to you.”

Pure metals possess special magical attributes. It’s almost impossible to find a magus without any pure metal what-so-ever.

Gold, for example, is like a sponge. It drains the mana from its surroundings slowly, then stores it until someone or something taps into it.

Silver on the other hand is a bit more brutal. It continually drains and negates mana. It has a short range at which it can take from, but in return it has a lot of force to it. It’s most regular use is to rip magic apart, dispelling it through force. I personally prefer my own spell for that, but it has limited uses.

“Thank you, but why now?” He puts the knife back in the bag and hands it to me. “I’m not ready to get back in the field, am I?”

He raises an eyebrow. “You weren’t told?”

I shake my head. “I was only doing some light exercise with Coach. We didn’t talk much at all.”

He clicks his tongue. “Kohane, you fucking drunk, get out here!” He yells from the top of his lungs before he storms the shrine.

It doesn’t take long before the sound of wood breaking and paper ripping can be heard from inside the shrine. Sounds like a door just broke. Glad I’m not the one who’s fixing that.

Coach comes crashing out through another door, with a goofy-ass smile plastered on his face. One way or another he managed to lose his shirt, leaving his collection of scars in full view, as he takes to the air.

Doc comes out the same hole a second later, breathing heavily. He barely manages to catch a glimps of the crow before he disappered behind the tree-line.

He pinches the bridge of his nose. "For the love of Inari,” he mutters.

“So, wanna tell me what this is about?” I ask. I haven’t moved an inch since he dashed off. I’ve come to learn the hard way, that when those two go at it, the safest space is where you stand.

“We talked about it last night. I can’t believe he forgot to tell you.” I sighs. “Jun had to leave on some urgent matters,” which is kinda typical for mentor, he’s a busy man. “However, he had planned on leaving to deliver something for the Child of Are. Now, since he can’t go, you’re the obvious next choice.”

That makes sense. I am the only other priest at this shrine, so if the head-priest can’t go, it falls to me. So I’m supposed to run a delivery to this Child of Are. I think I’ve heard that name before. No, not heard, read. That’s the name of the one wrote the-

I feel the bag of knives slip from my hand. “Do you think you could repeat that? I don’t think I quite got it.”

“You’re going to Gensokyo, essentially.” He picks up the bag for me.

I’m going to Gensokyo.

That’s like a dream come true.

This is my chance to finally meet her.

I pump my fist in excitement.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - Feb 25, 09:32
==========

“I have to say, this may be the thing I hate the most about having lost an arm.” I complain. “I can’t wait to be able to get dressed on my own again.”

“Not like I love looking at your half naked body either, you know.” Doc responds. “Stomach in.”

I take a deep breath and pull my stomach as far in as I can. He pulls hard on the hakama’s straps, tightening it completely.

“Too tight.” I complain.

“As long as I can fit a finger in between, it’s too loose,” he tighten it even further.

He finishes up and moves on to my arms.

“And you’re sure you want to use these?” He asks, referring to some spell tags I prepared in advance. “The side effect will backfire.”

“Only if I activate them. Simply having them does no harm.” I shrug off his concern. I designed those, I’m fully aware of their consequences. “They’re meant to be used in emergencies only. It’s a safety net I’d rather use over your rune.”

He makes a deep sigh and starts wrapping them around my arm. “As long as you know what you’re doing. But if I find out you did something stupid, I assure you, I’m going to do something stupid,” he says poking at my chest.

I don’t respond. I just stand there, letting him take care of the final details.

It’s not often I get to wear my uniform as a priest. It’d stand out too much when I’m doing field work. Here at the shrine, a simple dougi is more than suitable for anything not related to rituals.

Going to Gensokyo, representing my shrine is more than enough reason for me to wear the uniform. But the reason I think Doc wants me to wear it, is because Gensokyo is filled with youkai.

You see, my uniform is made with the hair of a youkai living in the village. Woven like this, it has the strength of a full set of armor, but weights next to nothing. We made it like that to serve as a layer of defense in battle. That of course means we had to stray off the traditional design, but the essence is still there.

I had a set of casual clothes like this too, since going around dressed as a priest would stand out too much. Sadly, it got torn apart a while back.

“That should do it.” He gives the ribbon in my hair one final thug. “So, are you feeling ready yet?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I reply.

“Alright.” He hands me a necklace with several old kanji engraved on it. “You remember what to do, right?”

“I believe so. It’s not a terribly complicated spell.” Besides, this necklace will do most of the work.

“Right.” He lights cigarette as we walk outside. “I’ll see you in a week’s time then. And I better not find a scratch on you by then, you hear?” He points the cigarette at me as he says it.

“I’ll try my best.” I pick up my bag at the torii.

This is it.

I take a deep breath and start channeling spiritual energy into the necklace. I create a clear image of the spell in my mind, and things start to change.

The scenery in front of me warps to beyond recognition. A sense of rejection flows over me, similar to the one I feel during breaches except weaker.

Everything starts to fade away. The cold feeling of snow, the feint sound of wind, the bright colors of the landscape, they all fade into darkness. The only thing left is me, and the torii.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 25th of More Clothes Month, 09:56
Gensokyo day 1
==========

The world soon starts fading in again, presenting me with a new scenery. A grand image of nature rarely seen anymore.

I turn around.

And there it stands, the Hakurei Shrine of Gensokyo. It appears slightly different than our own, but it still looks like a Hakurei shrine.

“Anybody home?” I call out as I approach the shrine.

No answer.

“Hello?” I try again.

Still no answer.

She’s not around? Then I shouldn’t linger. I have a little over eight days before I can return back outside, so there’s plenty of time to meet her later.

I walk back to the stairs.

This shrine isn’t on a mountain like ours, but it’s placed high on a hill so it still gives me a good view of the land.

I spot a large settlement in the distance; the Human Village most likely. That’s where my destination is.

I start descending the stairs.


==========
Human Village, East District - 25th of More Clothes Month, 12:32
Gensokyo day 1
==========

It’s a lot more busy than I expected, to be honest. Quite larger as well.

More people than I can count are walking up and down the street. Merchants fill the sides of the street with their stands, calling out and advertising their ‘special deals’ and such.

There are very few buildings in this area which look anything like residential housing. Storage and shops, really, that’s what it looks like.

I’m in the wrong part of the village, aren't I?

I stop at a random stall and the owner immediately speaks up. “Hello good sir, and what could I interest you with?” His voice is raised to overpower the noise of the people walking by.

“Information, if it’s on the menu.” I lean on the counter.

“Depends on what kind, really.” He makes a big gesture with his arms. “All from the latest gossip to the best hunting spots. So, what’s your interest?”

“Directions, really.” I tell him flatly. No need to beat around the bush. “I need to get to the Hieda household, but I’m a little lost.”

“The Hiedas? Interesting.” He rubs the few stubbles that makes up his beard. “You’ll need to head to the village square then. That’s where all the aristocrats live. For a bit of coin, I might also be able to tell you a few more details.” There’s a sparkle in his eye as he adds the last part.

“No thank you. “I get back up. “You already told me what I needed to know.” I turn around and start walking, without acknowledging his frown.

The village square he said. That’s likely the center of the village. If I follow this main street, I’ll probably end up there anyway. From there it’s just asking someone again.

I eventually make it to a large intersection, which is presumably the square. It took a while because of the crowd. Honestly, this is how I’d imagine Edo to have been back in the day.

“Excuse me.” I call out to a young girl in a bright flower patterned kimono. She looks like a rich kid, so she’d probably know something about the aristocrats. At least it’s worth a shot.

“Yes?” She stops up.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where the Hieda household is?” I ask her.

“The Hieda? Why would you be looking for them?” She asks back.

“I have some business with the Child of Are, you see.”

“Really? In that case, follow that road until you see a house with a stone wall. You can’t miss it.” She points down one of the main streets.

“A stone wall? Got it. Thank you, miss.” I give her a polite bow, which she returns before continuing in her way.

I follow the road down a ways until I find a house surrounded by a stone wall.

Well, calling it a house might be a bit modest. It’s more like a small mansion, even compared to the surrounding buildings which all look like they’re be owned by the wealthy. This is the only one with a stone wall, though. The rest varies from plain wood to bamboo.

I knock on the gate and a voice from the other side tells me to wait a moment.

A short blue haired girl in plain white clothes opens the gate. “Yes, how can I help you?”

“This is the Hieda household, right?” I ask. She simply nods in response. “Good. I’ve come to deliver a package to the child of Are, I believe she’s expecting me.”

“I’m afraid she’s not home right now. Is it a package I can take for her?” She asks.

“It’s not,” I tell her, “I was told to deliver it to her personally. Do you know when she’ll be back? Or would it be better to just return tomorrow?”

“Um,” she fidgets around with her sleeve, “If, if she’s expecting you, then it shouldn’t be a problem to let you in, right?”

Why are you asking me?

“Turning him away would inconvenience him,” she starts muttering to herself, “and if lady Akyuu was expecting him, she wouldn’t want that, that’s why,” she suddenly radiates with confidence, “it’s okay to invite you in.”

“Uh, sure, why not,” I say, somewhat taken aback by her sudden change in attitude.

She leads me to a room and tells me to wait for lady Akyuu to come. She was so kind to even bring me a tray of tea.

From the looks of things, this seems to be a study. The wall at the far end is taken up entirely by a shelf, filled with scrolls and books. In the middle of the room is a low table with a brush and an ink stone, ready to be used.


==========
Hieda Household - 25th of More Clothes Month, 13:54
Gensokyo day 1
==========

“Welcome back, lady Akyuu.” Thanks to my sharp senses and the silence filling the mansion, I’m able to pick up on what’s going on at the front door. “A guest showed up a bit earlier. He said you were expecting him. He’s waiting in your study.”

“Alright, thank you. I’ll go see him right away.” The new voice answers.

The sound of footsteps rapidly approach. Guess this would be my cue to look awesome. But that would take too much effort.

The door slides open and a girl in a bright flower patterned kimono walks in.

“It seems you found your way here after all,” she says.

“You gave me quite clear directions, so of course.” I can recognize her voice, so I don’t need to look up to see.

“Indeed I did,” she sits at table in the middle of the room, “but if you don’t mind me cutting the chase.”

I put the book I was reading back on the shelf and stand up. “I’m Hakurei Ryuko, priest and apprentice of the Hakurei Shrine located in the outside world. I’ve come today in place of my mentor as he had other urgent business to attend to.”

I fish out the package from my bag and hand it to her. She takes it without hesitation and opens it. It appears to only contain papers. Letters and reports from what I can see by the headlines.

She skims through some of them before putting them down.

“People would usually say something like ‘I expected you to be taller’, but you’re are actually taller than I expected.” She says as she puts the papers down.

“Excuse me? It sounds like you already knew of me.”

“Of course I did. The shrine on the outside of the barrier is just as important as the shrine on the inside. Ergo, you’re just as important to the chronicles as our priestess.” She rests her head in her hand. “Not to mention your ‘mentor’ always seems to hold you in high regards. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”

“The pleasure is all mine, lady Akyuu,” she cuts me off.

“Just ‘Akyuu’ is fine. I regard your mentor as a friend, and thus you, as a friend.” She tells me.

“Well then, as I said, the pleasure is all mine. I’m quite fond of reading the Chronicles.” I tell her. “It has been my only window to Gensokyo, and as such, I’ve read it quite a few times. I may not remember it as clearly as you, but I’ve memorized almost every entry by now.”

“It’s certainly nice to know your work is being appreciated.” She chuckles slightly. “So, what do you think of our version? As I understand it, the one released in the outside world is altered?”

“I wouldn’t say altered, really,” I sit down across from her at the table, “censored is more the word I’d used. I obviously didn’t get to read all of it, but from what I could see, your Chronicles simply hold more information, both in accuracy and amount.”

“Really? Interesting, I have to ask in to that next time I talk with Jun.” She rubs her chin as she seems lost in thought. “Anyway, you did what you came to do, right?” I nod. “So what are you planning now? If you aren't busy, I’d love to get an article of you in the Chronicles.”

[] Sure, why not.
[] Actually, I had planned on going back to the shrine.
[] It’s still early, but I should find a place to stay the night.
>> No. 29848
[x] Sure, why not.

It'll be interesting of what she writes. Sort of odd how Reimu wasn't there as the main time she isn't at the shrine is during an incident.
>> No. 29849
[x] Sure, why not.
>> No. 29850
>>29848
Well she does go out sometimes. She might've gone to the market even.

[x] Sure, why not.
>> No. 29857
[x] Actually, I had planned on going back to the shrine.
>> No. 29859
Calling it for
[x] Sure, why not.

I had actually expected >>29857 to win. It's a nice surprise.
>> No. 29862
File 143734342794.png - (297.53KB, 600x795, Didn not expect that did you.png) [iqdb]
29862
==========
Hieda Household - 25th of More Clothes Month, 14:06
Gensokyo day 1
==========

I had actually planned on going back to the shrine. I'd love to have a chat with the Hakurei shrine maiden.

But I’ll be here all week. I have plenty of time, there’s no rush.

“Sure,” I shrug, “why not.”

“Splendid. Can we do it now, or would later suit you better?” She asks.

“Now is just fine,” I tell her, “I have a lot of time to kill anyway.”

“Airi.” She calls out.

The sound of footsteps hurriedly approaching can be heard out from the hallway. We hear a squeal and a thump, followed by a moment of silence.

I glance over at Akyuu. Without taking her eyes off the door, she holds up a finger, silently telling me to wait.

The door slides open and reveals the young girl who greeted me at the gate.

“It seems like our guest will be staying for a while longer.” Akyuu notes. “If you wouldn’t mind, could you prepare some tea and snacks?”

Even though I was just drinking some before you came home. Should I start fearing for my bladder?

“Oh, of course, my lady.” She doesn’t even wait for another word before darting off. “Perhaps I should prepare green tea? But he’s a friend of lady Akyuu’s, so maybe that’s too plain for him.” She continues to talk to herself as she leaves.

“Such a sweet girl” Akyuu comments

“Interesting at the very least,” I agree.

“Right,” she corrects her posture and picks up her brush, “shall we begin?”

I gesture her to go ahead. “Ask away.”

She starts by writing down a few things before looking up at me. “Then let’s start from the top. Tell me, do you have any kind of ability or skill or anything else you’d say characterizes you?”

“That seems simultaneously very specific and very vague,” I jest. “I wouldn’t really call it an ability as much as I’d call it a skill, since everyone can learn with enough dedicated training.”

I tell her about my ability to manipulate spiritual energy, about why I worked to get this skill rather than an alternative. I explain the various usage it has, such as enhancing my senses even further while giving me a new one entirely.

I go into detail, describing various skills taking root in this ability, how I craft barriers and seals or how I weave enchantments using spiritual energy.

Akyuu listens attentively as I speak. Every so often she ask about something, other times she comments on it, relating it to an example from Gensokyo. She writes down everything I say, every question she asks and the answers I give.

The conversation trails off to the training I do at the shrine. I tell her how the barrier acts on the outside and how I go about fixing it.

==========
Hieda Household - 19:58
==========

“How about life at the shrine?” She asks. “Surely you don’t train all day every day.”

“No, I get injured too much to train nearly as often as I would like.” I tell her. “Though it does give me the time to take care of my actual duties as a priest, like cleaning and praying to our god.”

“You actually work? Geez, Reimu could learn a thing or two from you.” She chuckles at her own joke.

“Really? That bad?” I can’t help but play along. “Most of what I know about her is from your book, but if all that’s true it’d be safe to say I’m her opposite.”

“I’d say. Raised by youkai, specializing in hand to hand combat, actually working. Sounds about as far away from Reimu as you can get.” She scribbles down the last bit. “There, now I just need to rewrite it to format it a bit better.”

I look over her shoulder skimming through her notes.

==========
Title: Youkai Priest of Hakurei

Name: Ryuko Hakurei

Occupation: Priest

Ability: Manipulating Spiritual Energy

Residence: Hakurei Shrine (Outside World)

A priest at the Hakurei Shrine located in the outside world.
The shrine on the outside exists to prevent youkai as well as humans from forcing their way in, as such would harm the barrier. (*1)
He has keen senses and awareness of his surroundings.
As his role as a Hakurei priest requires it, he has repelled several youkai who attempted to force their way through the barrier.

Personality:
He’s calm and carries himself with confidence. He keeps other people at an arms length for reasons unknown.
However, that doesn’t mean he doesn't care.
He was raised by youkai so he treats them as his kin, whereas humans are the different ones.

Ability:
He is able to manipulate spiritual energy.
By layering it over his normal senses, he becomes able to see a world other humans can’t.
It also grants him a ‘sixth sense’ which allows him to sense spiritual energy aside from his own.

Martial arts:
He specializes in hand to hand combat by practicing martial arts.
Rather than relying on tools or weapons he would rather take care of things with his own hands.
That is why he primarily only uses martial arts when dealing with youkai.
However, he still uses spells and tools when deemed necessary.
His style of martial arts combines various other styles.

Everyday Life:
Whenever he has time off from his training, he takes care of his other duties as a priest.
However, he spends as much time as he can get away with either studying or practicing.
He also tends to get injured a lot, so a lot of time is spent resting and recovering as well.

Job:
He might be the human with the most knowledge on youkai. A youkai specialist.
Since he’s used to dealing with youkai, he can approach them in a calm and calculated manner, even during dangerous situations.
While he’s the only one on the outside who deals with the barrier, there any many others who deal with youkai and magic in general.(*2)

*1 Instead they should seek out the shrine which can then guide them over.
*2 It seems magic isn’t entirely forgotten in the outside world yet.
==========

“Youkai priest of Hakurei?” I ask.

“Yeah, you don’t like it? I thought it was appropriate since, well you know.” She notes.

“Honestly, I don’t have an opinion on it in that regard,” I tell her, “it’s more that it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.”

“Then what about ‘Godless Priest’?” She motions her hands like she’s presenting a headline for a tabloid or something.

I shake my head. “I do have a god you know.”

“It’s the theatric of it.” She tries to convince me. “Oh fine, then how about ‘The Wandering Divine Warrior’?”

“Youkai priest is sounding better by the minute.” I sigh and shrug. “What are the titles even used for? If you just decided it like that, it really doesn’t seem important. Unlike back home, a title is like a nickname you earn.”

“We mostly use them when competing in danmaku or dueling.” She says. “It’s really just for show.”

“So it really doesn’t matter? Then just use ‘Youkai Priest’.” I brush it off with a wave. I can’t fire danmaku, nor am I interested in Gensokyo’s dueling rules. I won’t be using the title anyway in that case.

She strikes the brush through ‘Hakurei’ in the title. “There. You’ll have to wait until next release to see it though. Just adding one article isn’t enough to warrant an update.”

“Out of curiosity, which section will it be placed under?” I ask.

“Well,” she puts a finger on her lip as she thinks, “the category ‘humans’ refer to the humans inside Gensokyo, and ‘Outsider’ refer to normal people from the outside. No offense of course,” she quickly adds.

“None taken,” I assure her.

“And you don’t really qualify for the ‘Heroic Legends’ section either.” She ponders for a bit. “Maybe I have to create a new section detailing ‘ability users’ as you call them from the outside.”

“If you need any information on them, just ask.” I tell her.

“Will do,” she replies with a smile. “But first I need to finish up your article. Thank you very much for your time.”

“It was a pleasure to spend an evening with a lovely young lady such as you.” I tell her. “The only thing that could have made it better was if we talked about you instead.”

She just smirks in response. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

I shrug and shake my head. “It was worth a try at least. Anyway, I have to get going if I want to find a place to stay the night.”

“Why don’t you just stay here?” She asks as she rolls the scroll up.

“I really don’t want to impose any further.” I decline.

“Nonsense,” she dismisses it with a wave of her hand. “Stay the night here, I insist. I can’t very well send a guest out on the street after nightfall.”

“Seems like my charm worked after all.” I note amused.

She covers up a smirk with her sleeve. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Anything to see that smile of yours.” I tell her.


==========
Hieda Household - 26th of More Clothes Month, 07:05
Gensokyo day 2
==========

Seven days left until I can return, and I’m done with my errand. That’s seven days off to do what I want. It’ll be a nice change of pace for once.

[] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.
[] Go talk some more with Akyuu.
[] It’s time to visit Reimu. Go to the shrine.

----------
This update is gonna fuck with my upload schedule.
>> No. 29863
[x] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.

Nothing wrong with having a bit of fun.
>> No. 29865
[x] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.
>> No. 29866
[x] Stop. Reimu time.
>> No. 29867
>>29862
[x] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.
>> No. 29871
[x] It’s time to visit Reimu. Go to the shrine.
>> No. 29879
[x] It’s time to visit Reimu. Go to the shrine.

Time for Reimu. Why are we not choosing her?
>> No. 29880
>>29879
Because it might actually bring our time in Gensokyo to an end and with the general luck, she won't be there.
>> No. 29881
File 143782024844.jpg - (471.46KB, 1320x1131, f7f7d4e0f872077196de9aef72f9a538.jpg) [iqdb]
29881
>>29880
>Because it might actually bring our time in Gensokyo to an end

>>29847
Right before traveling to Gensokyo.
>I’ll see you in a week’s time then.

>>29862
Towards the very beginning.
>But I’ll be here all week. I have plenty of time, there’s no rush.
Right above the votes.
>Seven days left until I can return

I haven't explained 'why' yet in the story, so I'll refrain from that here for the time being.
I will however say that there's a 200 hour cooldown when traversing the border. That roughly translates to eight and a half day, meaning the evening of the eighth day is the earliest point you can go home.


And we're tied between exploring the village and Reimu time. I'll go with what reached the tie first if it's not broken before Monday morning when I close the votes.

Why picture?
Just because.
>> No. 29882
I thought the Reimu vote was gonna make a comeback, but look like it stopped short.
[X] Explore the village on my own. I might find something interesting.
reached the tie first, so it won.
I'll start writing now.
>> No. 29897
File 143853741740.jpg - (268.79KB, 566x800, 1f8f012a95f7ab1cac3a0636fab6a586.jpg) [iqdb]
29897
==========
Hieda Household - 26th of More Clothes Month, 07:05
Gensokyo day 2
==========


Getting to see Gensokyo with my own eyes has always been a dream, one that’s now come true. Some points of interests include the two religions that appeared in the recent years. Mostly out of interest to see how different it is from the outside. Their practices are centuries old, I believe it was.

It should go without saying that the Hakurei Shrine is a Shinto shrine meaning that I’m a Shinto priest. Since everyone at my shrine are more than a few centuries old as well, I’ve been taught the way they know, not the modern way.

There’s also the famous dragon statue at the center of the village. Rumor has it that it may just be technology, but since we can’t accurately predict the weather in the outside world using technology, I find it a bit hard that Gensokyo can, even with the kappa. Besides, there is the fact it can predict incidents. That’s a level of technology the outside has yet to achieve.

Then there’s the Shinto shrine in the village. According to the Gensokyo Chronicles here at Akyuu’s place, that shrine is managed by a black furred fox. I can’t help but feel that, that should be the first place I visit. Maybe it’s my love for foxes, or maybe because it’s a Shinto shrine. Regardless, I want to go there.

I ask Akyuu for directions before bidding her farewell.

Akyuu’s house is in the innermost circle of the village. It’s basically where the rich reside. Aristocrats, land owners, scholars, administrators, those kind of people. Since the intersection between the two main streets of the village is here at the center, it means that the most people pass through here making it perfect for merchants but pricey as well.

The shrine is located in the farmers residential area, which is the outer circle in the west district. The Buddhist temple is on the border between the outer and middle circle of the residential area. And the Taoist’s temple is in the commercial area around the inner and middle circle border, east district. Apparently I passed right by it on my way here.


==========
Human Village, West District - 26th of More Clothes Month, 08:02
Gensokyo day 2
==========

She said to turn left at the smiths workshop, but she didn’t say which one.

This was supposed to be the farmers residential area, right? So why are there three metal workshops this close to each other? One, maybe two spread out in the area would make sense to craft and repair tools. But if it’s back this densely, then how many are there in the area? Or maybe they’re sticking to the main street for commercial reasons, or just staying away from the houses because of the noise they make when they work. I could imagine that being annoying.

“Excuse me?” I pick the nearest smith to ask for directions.

He dips the horseshoe he’s working on into a bucket of water. “What can I do for you, sir?” He dries off some sweat from his forehead, smearing sooth on it in the process. He looks like he's in his early twenties, an apprentice maybe? “I’m sorry but we don’t make weapons here, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Weapons? “No, no,” I dismiss it with a wave, “I’m just a bit lost, you see. I was hoping to get some directions.”

“You’re not from around here, are you?” He wipes his hands off in a wet rag.

“It’s that obvious?” I decline his invitation to take a seat.

“The people from here know these streets like their own pocket.” He shakes his head, dismissing our conversation. “So, where are you going?”

“I heard there was a shrine around here, so I kind of grew curious.” I tell him.

“That it? See that house at the corner?” He points down the street. “Just go down there and you’ll be able to spot the shrine, no problem.”

It looks like another shop, but it doesn’t have any sign hanging.

“Just past the smith, huh? She could at least have told me which one.” I sigh and shrug. “Anyway, thank you for your help.”

“One moment.” He stops me. “What you said just now, ‘just past the smith’. Was that the extend of the directions you got?”

“Yeah?”

He starts chuckling. “I see, I see. Now it makes sense. That guy at the corner store, he’s an alchemist, you see, however the way he handles metal is amazing.” He crosses his arms and nods proudly. “And just between you and me, I kinda envy him for it. He’s been at it since before I was born, however so of course he’d be better.”

“Interesting. I’ll have to remember that.” An alchemist, huh?

“Ugh, I mean of course my own metal is also quite good, not to mention I’m cheaper as well.” He hurriedly adds.

“I’ll remember that as well,” I tell him, “though I’m mostly interested because alchemists have become a rare breed.”

“That so? Well,” he grabs my hand and gives it a firm shake, “good luck with whatever it is you’re doing, and remember: I may not be the best around here, but I will definitely give you the most bang for your buck.”

I can’t help but let a smile through. “Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when I need anything crafted.”

He gives me a huge satisfied smile before fishing the horseshoe out of the water to continue his work.

Either this guy is a fantastic salesman, or the people of Gensokyo are just more friendly in general.

I make my way to the corner, and the first thing I see is a crowd, gathered around a single building. Not a big crowd, but big enough to stand out. Right across from it is a tori, which means the shrine is there.

The sign on the building reads “Kuroko Dojo” written with the characters for Black Fox. Would make sense, if it’s placed right in front of this shrine, I guess.

“Out of the way! We’re coming through!” A couple of guys runs out from the building.

“Wonder what the hurry is,” i ponder out loud. Almost bumped into me as well, and I’m not exactly easy to miss.

“I think someone got injured again.” A fellow spectator answers my question. “Though I don’t think they’ll find a doctor in this area who’s open at this hour.”

It’s a dojo, so I can understand people getting injured, but this early? The village should just be waking up. “What exactly are they doing in there?”

“One of the students there is attempting the Hundred Dan challenge, it seems.” He sounds rather excited about it.

“Isn’t that something they only do in karate?” I ask him. I know the concept of the Dan challenge in martial arts, but I don’t know which ones it apply to. The ones that count as competitive sports, would be the most obvious.

“I don’t know, and I can’t say I care to be honest.” He shrugs. “She beat me good, that’s what I care about.”

I give him a quick glance over. He looks like he’d build for endurance and defense. Quite strong as well. I can’t see him losing to just anyone, not unless there were conditions for the victory, like ‘land a clean hit’, or ‘get your opponent on on their back’.

But then again, it’s not just anyone who’ll take the Dan Challenge. Fighting one person who’s equal in strength is hard enough, but one hundred, one right after the other, is a feat to behold.

“Say, wanna give it a try?” He asks out of the blue.

“Excuse me?”

“We have nowhere near enough people for this challenge, so we’ve been gathering in people who can throw a worthy punch.” He explains. “You seem the type. Granted I’m not the best judge of character, so yeah. What’s your build, by the way? Strength?”

“Speed, actually.” I correct him. “And anyone bold enough for a Dan challenge should be fun to fight. Any rules I should be aware of?”

“Don’t hit below the belt, don’t attack if they’re on the ground, and stop if you’re told to.” He states the last one more firmly than the two others. “This is just a spar after all.”

“So, with honor, basically?”

“Basically. So are you in?” He confirms.

“I am.”

“Then follow me, please.” He makes his way through the crowd. At times like this, I like being tall. I generally stand out in crowds, which I don’t like, but when I need to move through crowded areas, people tend to step aside. Well, not a single person in this crowd even reaches my shoulders, so that might have something to do with it.

Just as we enter, a loud familiar sound echoes through the hall. One guy in the middle is lying in the floor, coughing and gasping for air. Above him stands a woman, few years younger by the looks of it.

Wait, is that Yumemi?

No, no it isn’t. She has similar crimson eyes, and long flaming hair as well. Though, this girl’s hair isn’t braided, just tied up back with a single yellow ribbon. I’d still have mistaken her if not that her spiritual pattern is entirely different. She’s wearing a pretty standard gi, but with a wooden training sword attached to the belt.

What kind of martial arts are they practicing here?

“I told you, Ken. It doesn’t matter how big they are. You won’t scare me into forfeiting.” She taunts.

“I gave that up about a dozen men ago. This guy said he wanted to fight you, so I gave him the chance.” Actually, you asked me and I agreed. I never said it, but whatever.

She quickly sizes me up. “I haven’t seen you around before.”

“Just call me Ryuko.” Akyuu’s gonna publish my name, so there’s no need to hide it.

“Pfft, that’s a girl’s name, isn’t it?” She restrains her laughter. “But if you wanna be personal; Kotohime.”

“And what if it is?” I make my way into the ring, or what I assume to be the ring, after they dragged the previous guy out. I think he lost consciousness.

“Then it is. Nothing more to it.” I state frankly. “Though I’d expect a guy like you to have a cooler name, you know?”

“What if I told you it’s written as Dragon’s Child?” ‘Dragon Child’ to be precise, but it’s virtually the same thing.

“Then I’d give you a few points back.” She adds with a smile.

“So, are we going to banter all day, or are you finished wheezing?” I take a glance through the hall. Seems like quite a few people have fought her already. A few dozen at least from what I can see here. There’s likely more like ‘Ken’ who walked out.

“I’d like an extra second, if you don’t mind.” She starts breathing in deep to steady her breath.

“I do have another question before we begin. Why so early?” I ask.

“Because mornings are when I have the most energy.” She takes her battle stance. “It’s that simple. Now, I’m ready.”

I assume a stationary stance, feet planted solid and arm outstretched towards her.

She pulls her arms in close and charges at me.

I quickly move my hand to stop her by grabbing her head.

She swayd her body, trying to get past me, though that quickly stops since her momentum has dissipated.

“Listen,” she lets her arms dangle, “Could you please take this a bit more serious-” I step in turning my hand, forcing her down on the ground. Her petite build makes her light and easy to handle.

She rolls, quickly getting back on her feet.

“I think you’re the one not taking me seriously,” I tell her as I take my stance once more, “after all there’s nothing wrong with using my size as an advantage.”

She doesn’t talk back, rather she just keeps her eyes locked on me. Her look is sharp, focused and unwavering and I can swear that I see a light deep in her eyes.

She grabs her sword and with a single fluid motion draws it and swings it low at my feet.

I jump backwards, getting out of her range.

But she doesn’t stop. She continues the motions, letting the sword swirl around her, back towards me with full force.

What the hell kind of style are they practicing here?

Without thinking I jump and kick the sword out of her hands. I grab it as it flies past me and swing down.

It feels as if time itself slows down the closer I get to her. Every spec of fear, every bit of surprise, every ounce of confusion races across her face as her eyes widen in shock.

I manage to stop the sword barely an inch from her.

We stand like that for what feels like an eternity. She stands frozen in the middle of a dodge, her upper torse swayed back in an arch to dodge the sword. A futile attempt as it's barely hanging a hair's length over her smiling face.

Smiling?

“S-Stop!” One of the guys yell out.

With a sigh of relief Kotohime falls back, gasping for air.

A few guys hurry in to help her get back up. I hand the sword to one of them and walk out.

That was a disappointment.

She was attempting to defeat a hundred opponents in a row, so surely she should have been more of a challenge, right? Maybe it’s just because I’m used to fighting monsters surpassing me in every aspect, but she felt weak.

No, I saw it if even just for a moment. She has potential, she has skill, yet something was holding her back. Could it have been exhaustion?

“Wait up.” Kotohime calls out. “Where’re you going?” She comes out after me, half limping.

“There’s nothing a victor can say to a loser, so I’m leaving.” Complimenting could be see as pitying, lecturing could be see as arrogance or even insulting.

“But a loser can say something to the victor, no?” Eh, what? “You won,” she shrugs, “just means I haven’t trained hard enough. There’s no reason to get mad over that. And even if there were I should get mad at myself.”

“That’s a rather positive way of looking at it.” Most people would focus on the defeat itself, not what comes afterwards.

“I get that a lot.” She circles around me. “Let me treat you to a prize. You’ve earned it.”

“Actually I had planned to-”

“So you’re free? Great.” She grabs my arm and starts dragging me along before I get a chance to react.


==========
Human Village, North District - 08:38
==========

She dragged me halfway through the village before she found a food stall that was open. She orders something I’ve never heard of, before finding a place to sit down.

“Mind if I ask you something?” She asks as I take the seat next to her.

“I can’t stop you, can I?”

“Pfft, probably not.” She just chuckles to herself. “I’d like to know where you learned to fight.”

“Why, exactly?” I ask.

“Well you see,” she scratches her cheek, “I kinda got an interest for it since I helped a friend with sparring some time back.”

“I see.” The waitress comes out with a plate of what looks like dango. Kotohime pays her and she goes back inside. “My style of fighting wouldn’t fit you, though. To you martial arts is a hobby, right? To me it’s a lifeline.” I pick up one of the snacks and examine it. “Besides, to train where I do, you’d have to give up your life as is, and travel out of the village.” Each of them have a strong an unique fruity scent to them.

“I see.” She leans back against the wall. “And you can’t train me personally?”

“I’ll be leaving again in a few days, and I can’t promise I’ll come back either.” I take a bite of the snack, and- god dammit it’s sour.

She just laughs at my reaction. “Endure it for a little longer. Trust me.”

As she said, it’s starting to get sweet. They’re not bad, actually.

“They are kinda famous, or infamous depending on how you look at it, around here. People use them for a game of dare all the time, because of their strong flavor.” I can see why, but they’re infinitely better than the instant food I have to endure back outside.

“Say,” I finish off the first of the snacks, “back there, did you really fight at full strength?”

“Why? You won. That’s the end, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, well,” I think I’d better be frank with her, “you weren’t a challenge.”

“Well excuse me.” She huffs out her cheeks in a pout.

“Don’t get me wrong. I felt something more from you, some talent or some skill.” I tell her. “But it was like you weren’t able to fight me at full strength.”

She rubs her neck. “Busted.” She claps her hands together and bows. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

“I’m not one to hold grudges over something so petty.” I tell her. “Just tell me why.”

“How should I explain it? It’s like, when I concentrate on my opponents, it feels like I can read their thoughts. I know exactly what they’re going to do and how they’ll respond to what i do. Last time I did though, I ended up breaking my opponents arm. I have to be careful, you understand, right?”

“I do, actually,” I really do, it’s not easy handling strength, “but you know, my school of martial arts turn both your body and mind into a weapon capable of fighting youkai barehanded. You couldn’t bruise me even if you tried.”

She perks up. “Do I sense a challenge?”

“As soon as you’ve recovered, I want to fight you again, at full strength.” The pride and honor of a martial artist is to fight against others. To test all their training, all their ideals and all their beliefs against someone else’s. And right now, I want to clash with Kotohime. This girl is capable of more than she letting on, but so am I.

“I’ll hold you to that.” There it is, that glow I saw in the fight. “But alas, you’re right. I should recover first. My body is aching all over. It’ll probably be unbearable tomorrow.”

“Take a hot bath, then wrap cold towels around the aching areas.” I tell her. “That’s how we deal with it back where I’m from.”

“And what, sit around doing nothing?” She places her hands on her hips and look at me like I just said something obviously stupid. “I’d rather deal with sore muscles tomorrow than boredom today.”

Well...

[] “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”
[] “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”

----------
Dunno if I'm most surprised about the fact I managed to finish this update on time, or the length of it.
Anyway this was the last update I could squeeze out in my vacation. Updates will go back to have a month between them.
>> No. 29898
[x] “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”
>> No. 29902
[x] “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”

During the bath, obviously.
>> No. 29906
[x] “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”
>> No. 29908
[x] “Just sharing some advice because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”

Hime Kotohime~
>> No. 29910
[X] “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”
>> No. 29911
[x] “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”
-[x] But it was also some advice.

The way I see it the main vote will be the bulk and the bit a small add on compared to voting for the advice option directly.
>> No. 29920
[x] “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”
>> No. 29922
Calling it for
[x] “Just sharing some advise because I know how much it’s going to hurt.”
>> No. 29928
[x] “I could keep you entertained, if you’ll take it easy.”
>> No. 29932
File 144156919830.jpg - (90.28KB, 723x1024, a5745cf2c2444d599e73502fd4bd5805.jpg) [iqdb]
29932
==========
Human Village, North District- 26th of More Clothes Month, 08:55
Gensokyo day 2
==========

“If you want to walk around with sore muscles, then so be it.” I shrug. “Not like I can tell you anything else. However,” I seem to catch her off guard, “I want you to be in top condition for our next match. Be sure to rest before then.”

A second passes where she does nothing but stare at me, before she plasters this big smirk on her face. “Of course, of course. On the condition that,” she gives my disabled arm a tab, “you get that working again, if possible.”

“I never said anything was wrong with it.” I note to her.

“But you don’t appear to be the type to give that kind of advantage,” she explains. “I know you were holding back as well, but it wasn't because of your arm.”

Perceptive, isn’t she?

“It’ll recover in time,” I assure her, “Nothing I can do to speed it up.”

A young man lazily approaches Kotohime from behind. “So this is why you took the day off.” He notes. “I can understand wanting to go on a date, but this early?”

“C-Captain?” She exclaims, stumbling backwards in surprise.

I turn to take a look myself and I’m met with a young man around my age, I’d wager. His most notable features would be the somewhat long golden brown hair tied back in a ponytail, and his bluish emerald eyes, which seem kinda distant if I gotta be honest. Tired, perhaps?

“We aren’t on a date, right Ryuko?” Kotohime continues, though with his eyes locked on me, I doubt he’s paying much attention to her.

“‘Ryuko’? Why couldn’t I have chosen a name like that?” He shakes his head and extends his hand to greet me, but quickly retracts it. “Wait, that’s not how you do it in this country,” he says, bowing instead. “Marty Schwartz, I’m Kotohime’s direct superior.”

I return the formality and bow. “A foreigner?” I ask.

“Northwest Europe” he answers. “But that doesn’t matter. I’d like to borrow your girlfriend for a while, if you don’t mind.”

“I’m telling you, we’re not dating.” She continues to insist.

“Sure,” I reply.

“Why aren’t you objecting?” She starts to yell at me instead.

“I should probably get going soon anyway,” I tell him. I never planned on even going with Kotohime, it just sorta happened.

I thank Kotohime for the treat and take my leave, even if she’s too defeated to pay me much mind.

If not for his accent, I might have mistaken him for a native. The denizens of Gensokyo don't appear to have a shortage of unnatural traits, so seeing people with unusual hair colors doesn’t really seem all that strange.

But I can ponder the traits of nationality for Gensokyo later; I seem to be lost.

I didn’t pay much attention when Kotohime was dragging me around, so I have no idea which way to go to return to the shrine I was at.

I know I’m at the northern end of the village. We never crossed the main street either, so I’m still on the west side. If I head straight east or south, I’ll reach one of the two main streets for sure. From there I should be able to find my way back.

==========
Human Village, North District - 09:19
==========

The name ‘Human Village’ is actually quite misleading.

It’s closer to being a town, or maybe even a small city. It takes a lot of time just walking around. Even after twenty minutes of walking in the same general direction, I still haven’t reach either of the main streets.

“Found you!” A voice yells at me from behind-

Without thinking I draw back my foot, turning sideways just in time to watch some projectiles fly past me.

Behind me stands a young brunette in a shrine maiden-

She’s wearing a scarf, yet her shoulders are exposed. Why?

“Oi, Reimu, what’s the rush?” A blond witch darts our from around the corner.

‘Reimu’, long brown hair, detached sleeves; could she be Hakurei?

Her friend would be Kirisame Marisa then. Blonde hair and dressed a western witch in black and white.

“He’s the one.” The shrine maiden exclaims, pulling out a card from, who knows where.

A measly “What?” is all I manage to say before she raises the card, yelling “Divine Spirit ‘Fantasy Seal -Blink-’” from the top of her lungs.

I sling my bag at her, partly to throw her off, but largely to free myself of the extra luggage.

The shrine maiden dives beneath it, letting it collide with the unaware witch, knocking her over.

From her hunched position, the brunette launches sideways, leaving behind heaps of talismans frozen in the air.

She comes to an abrupt halt, only to launch herself in a new direction immediately afterwards. Only this time, the talismans she left behind last time start flying towards me with alarming speed.

Just what the hell is going on?


----------
I know this update is on the short side.

I wasn't satisfied with how the second half of this update turned out, so I can't in good faith post it.

But at the same time, I wouldn't let you wait much longer for a new update. I'm already slow as it is.

Surely you guys understand, right?
>> No. 29933
File 144157471234.jpg - (297.73KB, 700x569, notquiet.jpg) [iqdb]
29933
>>29932
As long as you make this fight good, it's all golden.
>> No. 29935
Any update is good update.
>> No. 29968
File 14439870023.png - (1.85MB, 1200x1696, dfe6f2e9564a99f38ea03bcb8ebea9e9.png) [iqdb]
29968
==========
Human Village, North District - 26th of More Clothes Month 09:20
Gensokyo day 2
==========

Reimu stands frozen in shock at the sight.

Each and every talisman thrown bursts into flames as the spell border collapses around us.

With the afterglow of Spell Break still emitting from my hand, I pull off my jacket. The new hole in the back makes it kind of useless.

And just because she suddenly manipulates space. When the hell was she able to do that? Having those ofuda appear from behind is a really dirty trick.

Having recovered, the young miss flicks her hand and a few long needles appear in between her fingers.

I hold up my hand in front of me, forming the most basic gesture used in spell crafting. My spiritual energy starts circulating, fueling every part of my body with fresh energy.

“Damn creepy eyes.” She mutters before darting at me.

“Kabe!” I yell as I swing my hand sideways, drawing a line through the air.

A wall of pure energy rises in front of me, blocking her path.

She jumps, easily clearing the barrier. Still in the air, she throws her needles.

“Shit.” I raise my arm, letting all six projectiles pierce it.

Right about now I miss my left arm. Getting these needles out would really be nice.

I take a step forward and bring my leg upwards into a high kick. It scores a deep stomach blow as she descends, sending her back into the air.

She stays in the air, clutching her stomach.

I take the opportunity to bite into a needle and pull it out.

A few projectiles hitting the ground around me quickly direct my attention back to the floating girl.

She throws another set which stops in midair. Aligned with the previous set, it creates a barrier, blocking me in.

With the barrier active she boxes herself in, in another smaller barrier and- Oh fuck no. The same trick isn’t going to work on me twice.

I ignite my spiritual energy, creating an aura around me. At the same time, Reimu starts shooting out talismans in all directions.

As they reach the walls of her barrier, they disappear only to reappear inside my barrier.

When they hit me earlier, I learned what they target and how much power they have. So if I simply turn up the volume of my power output, these should be destroyed no problem.

And just as predicted, the ofuda bursts aflame as they enter my range.

The barrage quickly ceases when she realizes how futile it is.

“And apparently this is now happening.” She says, brushing some hair out of the way. “Could this day get any worse?”

“Having a bad day?” I ask. “Then let me tell you something useful. You can only use your attacks on me once, before they become useless.”

“That’s supposed to cheer me up?” She asks.

“That’s a vital piece of information if you plan on defeating me.” I answer.

She responds with a grunt. She looks around for a moment before dashing off behind a building. Less than a moment later her spiritual energy vanishes.

What’s she up- Behind!

I spin, directing her incoming foot past me.

She quickly regains footing and escape out of my field of view. Her spiritual energy disappears immediatly afterwards.

This time she comes at me from the side. I throw my arm at her.

She ducks and circles around, out of my view once more.

Her energy disappeared again along with her.

I spin around just as she reappears midair, coming at me hands clenched tightly.

I quickly cover my face, bracing my entire body for her punch.

Her energy disappears before she hits me. No, wait, she’s below.

With a distinct glow surrounding her hand, she executes a near perfect punch. Her hand moves from her shoulder towards my guts in a straight line. Her feet, knees, hips, spine, shoulder, wrist, everything rotating ever so slightly allowing her to put all her weight into this attack.

A muffled crunch echoes throughout me as her fist connects.

But she didn’t hit any bones.

I move my arm, allowing for a better view of her. She stands frozen. Her outstretched arm trembles slightly. Her eyes are locked on the point where she connected despite the water building up in them.

“Reimu,” I ask for her attention, “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” She states.

“Does it hurt?” I ask.

“Doesn’t hurt.” She mumbles.

“Need a break?” I ask.

She wait a second before responding, but she ends up nodding.

Slowly pulling her hand back, she gently caress her knuckles.

“If you’re too hurt to go on, just say so.” I tell her. “It’s no fun if you- Guhh!” Without warning, she sends me flying.

I find myself looking up at a very confused young man.

I quickly pick myself back up from the remains of what used to be a stall.

A quick look around reveals that I’ve end up at the main street. So it was this close?

I crack my neck. “You should probably get out of here.” I tell the guy. “Reimu is not happy, and she’s coming this way.”

As if to prove my point, the shrine maiden walks out from the alley she knocked me out from, adjusting her sleeve with one hand and carrying new charms in the other.

It doesn’t look like my new friend needs more convincing as he and his fellows start running leaving me alone with the brunette once more. Only this time we have a bigger playground.

“Damn you’re sturdy,” She sighs “and it’s really starting to annoy me.”

“Really?” I ask. “Because you get more and more interesting with each trick you pull out.” I rotate my shoulder into a crack. “I mean I’m a heavy fucking giant. Throwing me several meters isn’t an easy feat.”

“I know.” She states.

“What, no explaining on how you did it?” I ask. She answers with complete silence. “Very well, guess I render your attacks useless.” I bluff.

Her brow twitches at my word. She pulls out another card and declares her spell.

“Fantasy Nature.”

Oh-

Oh fucking hell!

Did I push her too far?

She darts straight at me.

I instinctively draw a line, creating a barrier between her and I.

She phases right through it.

As she closes the remaining distance she closes her eyes.

A handful of orbs appear from underneath her clothes, each shining in a color of its own.

The orbs start spinning at a speed where even my eyes can’t keep up, leaving only a blurred circle to be seen.

In no time flat, I find myself surrounded by bullets.

No where to move.

No where to escape.

All I can do is play the turtle, and with my shell that shouldn't be a problem.

I curl myself up the best I can and take each hit as they come.

I feel my body slowly going numb as each bullet pierces my defense. Each sting growing worse than the previous.

But I keep persisting through. Vitality is my single greatest attribute, rivaled only by my endurance. I can’t lose to something on this level.

It’s only a matter of time before the bullets starts thinning out. The orbs slow down, and Reimu slowly exits her translucent state.

Now.

Without hesitation, I jab her square in the face, breaking her concentration and the spell.

Not letting up, I continue by jabbing her right below the ribs, forcing her to bend over slightly before following up with and uppercut.

Finally having knocked her down, I jump back to take a breather and measure the damage she did-

I can feel the limit of my spiritual energy.

I can actually feel the limit of my spiritual energy. That’s- Not since the time it expanded have I felt the limit.

Her spell, it attacks the spirit rather than the body?

I see. In that case I just have to use a different form of defense.

I’ve dealt with that kind of enemy before, but I gotta say, this is different.

“I have to say, Reimu, you are everything I expected and more.” Strong opponents, that’s what keeps fighting so fun and interesting.

“God dammit.” She pound the ground before picking herself back up. “God dammit.” She curses again as she lays eyes one me. “And would you stop smirking already? It’s pissing me off.”

“Heh, sorry.” I wave off her comment. “It’s just that fighting you is so much fun.”

She grits her teeth.

Her gaze quickly shifts to the side for a second before returning to me.

I’m about to look myself, but the shrine maidens sudden movement keeps my attention on her.

With a single leap she closes the distance between us.

“Divine Arts,” she pulls out yet another spell card, “Omnidirectional Demon Binding Circle.”

The card flashes for a second before disappearing.

A glowing circle appears beneath our feet before walls shoot out from the ground, trapping us.

Trapping me.

As I look back, Reimu has disappeared back outside the barrier, waving towards the sky.

I follow her gaze to the witch hanging over the hole at the top of the barrier.

“Love Sign,” She declares.

“No.”

“Master,” She moves her hands back.

“No no no.”

“Spark!” She yells out as she fires her attack.

“No no no no no.” Is all I can muster as the beam of imminent pain approaches.

A deafening sound and blinding light engulf me as my mind goes numb from the pain.

The rapidly rising temperature of my skin indicates that my sense of touch is returning to me.

And my fucking god does it sting. It feels like I got a sunburn all over my body, just like that time I fainted during midsummer training.

I just shake my head, forcing the pain back.

“Master Spark!”

Wait, what?

My mind goes blank as the beam strikes me once more.

“Would you stop that?” I scream out as soon as the attack subsides.

Before I even finish the question, the next beam is on it’s way down already.

The barrier surrounding me shatters, meeting it’s limit as the latest attack dies down.

“Stop it!” I swing my arm- and oh fuck it hurts to move. “You’ve already given me first degree burns. Are you trying to give me second degree as well?”

“Just who the hell are you?” The shrine maiden has grown visibly confused at this point.

“Wait, you didn’t already know that?” I ask her. The question only seems to add to her confusion. “Reimu, I’m your counterpart. I’m a priest at the Hakurei Shrine in the outside world.”

“No way. No way.” She raises her voice at the last one. “That’s impossible. There’s no way you’re a human. There’s no way you’re a Hakurei.”

“As little as I want to admit it, I’m human.” I tell her. “Or at the very least I can’t surpass the human limit.” I want to shrug it off, but my skin is killing me. It hurts to even speak. “But trust me, Reimu, when I say I’m only a human.”

“I’m sorry but I don’t have any reason to trust -”

“Junya Ota.” Just as I mention his name, Reimu reach for my collar and pulls me down to her level with surprising strength.

“How?” Is all she asks.

“He’s my mentor.” I state matter-of-factly. “He’s the one who taught me about Gensokyo, about the Hakurei Barrier, and about my role in relation to those.”

She lets go of me, allowing me to stand back up. “That’s- But-”

“If you still don’t believe me, then lady Akyuu would be able to confirm it.” I tell her. Mentor went to Gensokyo a lot, and judging from Akyuu, the two of them have spoken quite a bit. At least that’s the impression I got from her when we talked yesterday.

With one hand covering her mouth and eyes dart all over the place, Reimu thoroughly thinks this through. “Then, if that’s true,” she starts, looking back up at me, “are you then saying I’m not the last Hakurei? That there still are some on the other side of the barrier?”

Her expression, it’s, I don’t know, soft? When she fought, her expression was sharp, keen, stern even. Now, it’s soft. Not friendly or sad nod welcoming. It’s just soft. Combined with the lack of her fierce aura, it feels like she’s a different person.

“I’m afraid not.” I tell her. “There’s only me, and even I am not a Hakurei, despite how much I might wish otherwise.”

“Reimu. What the hell is going on.” A voice from behind calls out.

Seriously? That’s the second time it’s happened today. I’d be tempted to believe it’s a custom here in Gensokyo, if we hadn’t just stirred up quite the trouble.

This time it’s a woman. If her matching blue dress and hair wasn’t a dead giveaway about who she is, then that object she chooses to use as a hat most definitely will. Kamishirasawa Keine, a were hakutaku working as both the guardian and a teacher of the Human Village. She’d be a little more threatening if ‘hakutaku’ didn’t sound so cute, but that comes from a guy with a girl’s name, so I’m not one to judge.

“I’m sorry, Reimu,” the witch runs up behind her, “But I couldn’t hold her back any longer.”

“I’m sorry, Miss,” I answer instead her, “But there was a misunderstanding between us which escalated quite a bit.” I glance over at Reimu. As she notices my stare, she switches to look at the teacher instead.

“You can say that again.” She places her hands on her hip. “So, do you know how much damage you’ve caused?”

“A wooden stand and about three cubic meters worth of snow.” I tell her. Most of that snow was from the witch’s laser.

“We may be trigger happy, but we are not irresponsible, you know.” Reimu joins in.

“Are you saying that before or after taking the fact you just had a fight without a spell border in the middle of the village, into account?” She asks. Before either of us gets the chance to reply, she sighs and continues. “Look, if you’re sure that’s all you damaged, then compensate it and try not to let it happen again.”

“Yeah, compensate her, big guy.” The shrine maiden urges me on.

“You were the one who threw me into the stand.” I point out. “Besides, I kinda lost my bag back there, if you didn’t notice.”

“You mean that strange container you threw?” The witch butts in. “I brought it in case we needed to check it for suspicious content, but looks like that won’t be necessary.” Strange container? It’s just a duffel bag. There’s nothing strange about those.

I fish out a small pouch and hand the teacher five yen.

She looks at the money, then back at me.

“Not enough?” I ask.

“No, it’s too much, actually.”

“Then keep the rest as an apology for the trouble caused.” I tell her with a well practiced smile.

“Well, if we’re done here,” the witch speaks up, “then I think I’ll get back to my experiment. I’ll catch you later Reimu.” She takes a running start before getting on her broom.

“And you,” Reimu then directs the attention to me, “We have a lot to talk about.” She takes me by the wrist and starts dragging with haste.

“Eh? But-” the teacher tries to protest, but Reimu drags me away too quickly for her to to react to what happened.


==========
Path to the Hakurei Shrine - 10:04
==========

Reimu stops before the entrance to a small forested area. She turns around facing me with the same sharp look she had back in the village.

“We shouldn’t get interrupted here.” She informs me. “I still don’t trust you, just so we’re clear on that. But say I believe your claim to be working for the Hakurei clan. That still leaves a few questions, like how the hell are you able to take that much damage and still stand? And if you’re from the outside then what are you doing in here? But most importantly, where did you get all that money?”

“Really, that’s your first question? Money?” I had hoped for something a little more exciting. “I don’t know the exact numbers, however, the value of a single yen in the outside is worth around point two percentage of what it’s worth here in Gensokyo. For example, what’s the price for a a cabbage head?” I ask her.

“You can get one for 3 sen I think, might be a bit more expensive.” She answers, visibly curious about where I’m going with this.

“And 30 sen is point zero three yen, right?” She nods. “One cabbage head in the outside world costs around 130 yen.”

She opens her mouth, about to say something but stops, thinking it over once more. “Why is it worth so little?” Is what she finally asks.

“Couldn’t tell you.” I tell her flatly. “The history of economics isn’t something I expect to ever put to use, so I never bothered learning about it.”

“Right,” she breaks eye contact, “just wanted to make sure you didn’t steal that from anywhere.” She clears her throat and recomposes herself. “So, what exactly are you doing here?” She asks.

“My mentor had some urgent business, so I was sent here in his stead to deliver a package to the Child of Are.” I tell her. It’s really that simple. “It appeared to be a letter, but what was written in it, I don’t know.” I answer her question before she gets to ask it.

“I see.” She cross her arms. “And now for the big question. How can you take three of Marisa’s Master Sparks, still stand and then call your self human? I mean taking my Fantasy Nature or her Master Spark once isn’t that bad, but still.”

“Is it really that hard to believe?” I ask her.

“You have more spiritual energy than the vast majority of youkai. In fact, I can count the number of youkai that can match your amount, on one hand. For a human, that’s not normal.” She reasons. “Don’t get me started on your endurance again. And finally there’s your eyes.” She lists, adding a finger with each statement.

“Okay, my eyes, they’re easy to explain. You see, back outside, yellow isn’t a natural eye color. Given my easily recognizable appearance, having unnatural eyes would just draw too much unwanted attention. So we enchanted them to be blue. The enchantment, however, is broken whenever I use magic. After a few minutes it kicks back in again, however.”

“Uhuh?” She raise an eyebrow. “I was going to refer to the slit pupil thing, but thanks for the story.”

Slit pupil? Last I checked they were perfectly normal, with and without enchantment. Not that I specifically look for it, but I think it’d be hard to miss, even with just a casual look in the mirror.

“What are you talking about?” I ask.

“Your right eye.” She says, pointing to her left, mirroring it for me. “During the fight it was slit. We have a myriad of eye colors here, even amongst humans, so I’m not concerned about that.”

“Wait, it was?” I hold my fingers against the eye. “I honestly don’t know anything about that. I’ll have to have Doc check it out for me. But I swear Reimu,” I quickly go back to topic, “that has never happened before.”

She eyes me with suspicion but urges me to continue on regardless.

“Regarding my spiritual energy, well,” I pause for a moment, thinking through how I want to go about it. “I had this ‘incident’ a few years back, rather not talk about it.” I explain. “During this incident I was almost killed by having my life drained. As a form for improvised self defense mechanism, my body started to produce energy in an abundance to protect my life. If not for that I’d have died. Afterwards, however, it didn’t stop. Even after the danger was over, I kept producing more and more energy, which forced my capacity to expand.” I explain. There’s more to it, but that just about sums it all up.

“And I’m supposed to feel sorry?” She asks, crossing her arms.

“No.” I answer. “You asked, I answered. Besides, I came out on top, stronger than ever. I don’t see what you can feel sorry about.”

“Right. And the last question.”

“I’m resistant to magic.” I state matter of factually. “Don’t bother asking, because your guess is a good as mine. I have no idea why, but I am.” Though I believe Doc knows why. At the very least he knows how to bypass it when healing me. “Other than that, it’s just a matter of endurance, an aspect which I pride myself on.” I add the last part with a smirk.

After a few moments of silence she speaks up. “Okay, I got it.”

“So you believe me?” I ask.

“No.” As deadpan as it gets. “I don’t trust you, but I feel like I can’t brush off what you’re saying. That’s why,” She points up at me, “you’re going to stay at the shrine where I can keep an eye on you.”

“Not giving me a choice?”

“Not giving you a choice.”

I sigh. If that’s what it takes to convince her, then fine. I’ve done what I came here to do. I just have to wait out the remaining time.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 10:47
==========

”- And that’s where you’ll sleep.” She spins around. “That’s the essentials of the shrine. Any questions?”

“No,” I shake my head, “the layout is pretty much the same as my shrine. I should be able to get around on my own.”

She nods off to take care of her own business.

I withdraw to my new room to rest and recover. I may have won the battle, but I also suffered the most wounds. But that’s the price for using a defensive style.

The room is simple, if not barren. Towards the back there’s a small table with a pillow as a seat. The corner is occupied by a thin full body mirror. The closet has a single futon.

All of it is covered by a fine layer of dust, revealing it's lack of usage.

I throw my bag over in the corner next to the mirror and take a seat in the middle of the room.

Without Doc around, I have to rely on my own body to heal. Preserving as much energy as I can is a priority for the time being. I also need to replace the vast amount of spirit Reimu destroyed.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

I feel my surroundings disappear as I slowly draw into myself, shutting the outside world off entirely.


==========
Unknown - ??:??
==========

[] A bright yet chilling light calling out to me without a sound
[] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise

And to avoid a pointlessly small update, what will you be doing tomorrow?
[] First thing on the day is morning workout. This body don’t maintain itself
[] Reimu doesn’t seem to do much excess cleaning. I should probably help her out
[] The walkway out in front of the shrine was entirely covered in snow. Let’s fix it
[] Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellent
[] The roof probably has seen worse days, but fixing it up before the snow starts melting could never hurt.
[] It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine.


>>29933
Hopefully it fulfills your criteria for 'good'. I could nitpick at this update, but I'm quite happy with it myself.
>> No. 29970
File 144399321363.png - (362.63KB, 520x590, bones.png) [iqdb]
29970
>>29968
Oh, absolutely. It was great!

[x] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise
Who or what could it be? At least it is cordial...

[x] It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine.

Time to show off some outside world's repairing skills. I'm sure he's sick of cleaning the shrine every single day anyway.
>> No. 29971
[x] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise

[x] Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellently.

Let's win her over with a healthy meal first before we start messing with the shrine.
>> No. 29974
[x] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise

[x] Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellently.

Sounds like there's something he's not being told.
>> No. 29975
[x] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise

[x] It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine.

I'm hoping that fixing the shrine won't make Ryuko overexert himself. At the very least, it should keep him out of trouble.
>> No. 29976
Calling it for:
[X] A cordial feeling darkness trembling with an unheard noise
And both:
[X] Breakfast. In terms of taste, I suck, but I balance the nutritions excellent
[X] It's going to take most, if not all of the day, but I could probably fix up the whole shrine

In terms of schedule, these two align quite nicely.
With that said, the first vote was rather one-sided. Did I let my own bias influence the phrasing too much?

Anyway, some good news is that I have this week off, so I'll be writing as much as I can.
>> No. 29983
>>29976
>Did I let my own bias influence the phrasing too much?

Dunno, I just focused on the word 'cordial'

And, in a world where vampires are moe and the grue walks into trees, 'darkness' isn't a bad word
>> No. 30019
File 144641270089.jpg - (514.30KB, 900x1440, 694168331d3bf4a662002a1b7e98d6ac.jpg) [iqdb]
30019
==========
Unknown - ??:??
==========

A void.

That is the only way I can describe this place.

There’s nothing as far as the eye can see, nothing but pure darkness. The only sound present is the beating of my heart, echoing within me. I feel no ground beneath my feet, yet I can stand on a surface.

This is a space with nothing in it. Yet it feels warm, as if it was filled to the brim with life itself.

It’s lonely, yet comforting.

At least, that’s how I remember this place being from the last time I came here, wherever ‘here’ is. This time, it’s different.

I’m not alone.

Or perhaps it’s just that I wasn’t aware of it until now, though I want to doubt that, as it’s hard to miss a dragon.

Yeah, you heard right; a dragon.

A being regarded as one of the highest even amongst the divine. A being so powerful even youkai worship it. I want to doubt that I could ever in my wildest dreams ignore such a being.

A rough estimate says it’s about as thick as my forearm is long. From tail to snout it spans about three times my height, probably a bit more. It’s hard to tell when it’s curled up like that. The scales covering it’s body look like newly fallen snow, and it’s mane is of a pale jade color. The horns are small but noticeable. Since it’s sleeping, I can’t get a look at it’s eyes, but I’d say that’s for the better. I have a feeling that locking eyes with it would do nothing if not send fear down my spine.

Taking all that into consideration, this dragon seems to be rather small; young might be a better word.

The dragons from legends are big enough to wrap around the entire Chinese wall and more. So big that even when they appear in our realm, they can’t descend beneath the sky.

I believe that to be an exaggeration, to put it mildly. But legends are spun from the truth. Even if they weren’t that big, I’m willing to bet that a being of such stature would be, I don’t know, four times the size of this one.

But that still begs the question, why didn’t I notice it?

The first time I came here was back when the shrine was attacked by an insanely strong youkai. The second time was during the ritual a few months back was I were officially welcomed into the Hakurei clan.

But why am I here again? Where is this place, and what’s its purpose?

Neither Doc, Coach nor Mentor could answer me, and there’s nothing here to even point me in a direction.

It’s frustrating. I want answers but have no way of getting them.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 04:09
Gensokyo day 3
==========

Really? Getting worked up over a dream? I swear I haven’t been myself these last few months.

With a bit of effort I manage to slip on a fresh tank top, free of holes and sweat.

I won’t be able to dress up like yesterday, not on my own anyway. Such is the inconvenience of a limp arm.

Oh well, this’ll just have to do. I better start on my morning routine now. There’s lots to be done today.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 07:43
==========

“I don’t know whether this is amazing or not.” She puts down the bowl. “I never thought it was possible to kill the natural flavor of rice.”

I give her a thumbs up. “There’s nothing I can’t kill, Reimu.”

“That wasn’t a compliment.”

“I know.”

She raises an eyebrow as she scans my face. It looks like she’s about to say something, but drops it in favor of finishing the bowl.

I close the door behind me and join Reimu under the kotatsu. These things are amazingly pleasant, actually. We don’t have one back outside, though I kind of wish we had. It’d be so much more pleasant than having to workout just to stay warm. Although if that was the case, I think I’d get out of shape easily during the winter.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” the shrine maiden rests her chin on top of the table, “what happened to your arm?”

“Well,” how should I even put it? “A piece of the Hakurei goddess has been embedded into my soul to allow me to more easily draw on her power, essentially.” I scratch my chin. That should summarize it nicely. “Once she’s settled in, I’ll be able to use my arm again.”

“I see.” She tries to blow her bangs out of her eyes, but they just fall back down in her face. After another failed attempt she gives up and instead just close her eyes. “That’s kind of a relief, actually. I was afraid you were just holding back yesterday.”

But I was holding back. The core principle of defensive fighting is to only attack when you’re absolutely certain that you can safely land a hit. The rest of the time you take hits, dodge or parry. The turtle strategy takes it a step further and abandons all offense for the sake of defense.

“You’re by no means weak, Reimu, if that’s what you’re worried about. You’re just inexperienced.” I tell her. “Had you stuck to your strong points instead of fighting on my terms, you’d probably have won.”

“Strong points? I’m pretty well-rounded, I think.” She seems to drift into thought as she finishes her comment.

“Alright then, let’s analyze the fight and reveal what your strengths are.”

“Pass.” She raises her hand in protest before letting in fall on the table. “Sounds like a bother, so can we skip it?”

“Well, that’s the fun part, but sure.” I shrug it off. “You excel at ranged combat, Reimu. And think about it, the only times I attacked you was when you were close, right? If you’d kept your distance you’d have held the advantage.”

“Ranged, huh?” She casually brushes my remark aside.

A few minutes pass with neither of us saying anything. I opt to just relax and enjoy the warmth of the table. And try as I might, I have zero clue as to what goes on behind Reimu’s stoic expression as she continue to stare out through the slightly ajar door.

“I think it’s about time I head out.” She suddenly breaks the silence.

“And you’re just gonna leave me here alone?” I ask her. “Even though you said you didn’t trust me?”

“But you won’t be alone.” Using her thumb, she points to the area behind her. Which is filled by a shelf. “She’ll be keeping an eye on you.”

“Who?”

“Mind coming out for a moment?” She asks, not bothering to lift her head from the table.

I’m about to answer when someone beats me to it. “No.” They reply sternly.

“That’s not what we agreed to yesterday.” Reimu complaints.

The doll house on top of the shelf, which I assumed to be little more than decoration, suddenly have the doors flung open. A little girl stands in the opening, clad in nothing but a white shirt. And when I say ‘small girl’ I don’t mean to refer to her petite curves or her young appearance, but her size. She’s no taller than the distance between the tip of my thumb and pinkie.

“But it’s too cold today.” She yells out. “Days like this should be spent under the-” She trails off as she makes eye contact with me. Then, just as suddenly as they had opened, the doors are slammed shut again. “If you’re having a guy visiting, tell me before I walk around without wearing anything, Reimu!”

“Doesn’t actually make a difference to me.” I note. Ogling women will only distract me from my work.

“But it does to me!” She yells out from her little chamber.

The shrine maiden gives the small doors a knock. “I’ll leave him in your care for the time being.” With that said, she exits the room, going deeper into the shrine. Presumable to her own room, but who knows.

With her gone, the room falls silent.

It only takes a few minutes before the mini-girl opens the doors to her little house. Wrapped tightly in a small blanket, she floats down and lands on the table.

She keeps staring at me for a while before suddenly stating, “You’re even taller than that old lady that keeps coming to harass Ms. Reimu.”

“And you truly live up to the name ‘Inchling’” I note. Now that we got the obvious out of the way, “I take it you’re Sukuna Shinyoumaru?”

“It’s Shin-myou-maru,” she corrects me, “but yes, I am. And I’m afraid I don’t know who you are, so if it’s not too much to ask, may I have your name?”

“I’m Hakurei Ryuko.” I tell her. “It’s no wonder you haven’t heard of me, this is the first time I’ve come to Gensokyo.”

“You mean you’re from the outside?” Right after asking, she catch herself and recomposes her posture. “I mean, this is the first time I have met someone from the other side of the border.”

“I’m honored to be your first,” I tell her, having chosen the words deliberately. “And likewise, this is my first time meeting a kobito.”

“It’s my pleasure.” She says, not reacting to my words at all.

“You know, you don’t have to be so formal around me.” I tell her.

“But it would be unbecoming of me to speak carelessly, as the princess of the kobito.” She argues.

I’m tempted to point out that moments earlier, she appeared before me clad in nothing but a small shirt; and I do mean nothing. But that wouldn’t be fair since she didn’t realize I was even there, so I’ll let it slide this time.

With nothing else to say, we fall silent again.

As nice as it is to be able to do nothing but relax, I have to admit that just lying around is boring. Maybe it’s a result of pushing my body every day for years on end, but there’s something telling me to go do something, anything. It makes my days off pure hell, because I’m not allowed to do anything but rest. But right now nothing is stopping me. These injuries are nothing compared to what I’m used to. Which is kinda sad, when I think about it.

I roll over on my stomach and crawl out from underneath the table.

“Where’re you going?” The little princess asks.

“To work.” I answer. “Care to join me?”

“I think I’ll pass.” She answers. “With this size, I won’t be able to help much.”

“Suit yourself.” I tell her as I head out the front door.

First order of business, to clear away this snow.

It’s almost spring, but there’s still this much snow falling, so I’ll have to make sure the shrine is prepared for a long winter afterwards.


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 27th of More Clothes Month 17:24
==========

“And that should do it.” I move back a little to admire my handy work. “Thanks again for helping me.”

“Not a problem at all, Mr. Ryuko.” My little friend wipes some sweat off. “It’s much easier to keep an eye on you like this anyway.”

A needle flies past me, grazing my cheek with deadly precision before shattering the roof tile I just finished mounting.

“And what do you think you’re doing to my shrine?” Reimu’s voice comes from directly behind me.

“Come on, I just replaced that one.” I complain.

“I’ll ask again.” She states.

I sigh and carefully stand up, as to not fall off the roof, and face her. “I’m maintaining the shrine where you’ve neglected it.” I tell her.

“I see.” she takes a deep breath. “But the roof was fine. Why replace anything on it?”

“Nothing was damaged, but water could leak through.” I tell her. “Come spring, all this snow will melt into the building.”

“Mr. Ryuko, you’re bleeding.” The inchling points out.

“Nothing new about that.” I wipe my cheek, feeling the clean cut with my thumb. “Mind helping me with that tile again, Sukuna?”

“When you’re done, come to the living room.” The priestess demands before descending to the ground.

----------

“So, what is it Reimu?” I slide the door shut behind me.

I see the little princess has already found the warmth of her blanket again.

“Here.” She pats on a piece of cloth next to her.

With no further instructions I opt to move closer to her. “Wait, this is,” I pick up the cloth and it unfolds into a familiar red haori. “It is, but I thought I abandoned it in the village.”

“You had decided to abandon it? Then this was just a waste of time.” The shrine maiden rests her head in her palm.

“No, I mean yes, but no.” I stumble over my own words. “You blew a hole in it, making it kind of useless, so I took it off. Then you dragged me away before I had a chance to retrieve it. I had just accepted that it was gone.” I explain.

“Yeah, and I went back to get it fixed for you. Since it was my fault and all.” She picks up a cookie from the bowl on the table and starts nibbling away at it.

The material used to repair the hole is different. It feels rougher to the touch, and the pattern is slightly off. I dunno if it’s as durable as the rest, but it’ll definitely help keep me warm.

I didn’t expect this.

I honestly didn’t expect this of Reimu.

She says she doesn’t trust me, then leaves me relatively alone in her home while she gets my clothes fixed.

I don’t know what to say, except, “Thank you.”


==========
Hakurei Shrine - 28th of More Clothes Month 08:48
Gensokyo day 4
==========
[] Sukuna asked if I could spare some time to indulge her.
[] A certain hermit decided to drop by.
[] Ask Reimu for permission to leave the shrine for a while
-[] Go find Kotohime.
-[] Maybe Akyuu is up for some chatting.

>>29970
Glad you liked it.

>>29974
I wonder~

>>29983
Actually, that was, well, not a rhetorical question, but more like a loud thought. I didn’t expect an answer. But that’s interesting nonetheless.
> And, in a world where vampires are moe and the grue walks into trees, ‘darkness’ isn't a bad word
Uhuh? Well, I’m not gonna ruin the surprise.
>> No. 30021
[x] Sukuna asked if I could spare some time to indulge her.
>> No. 30024
File 144644259757.jpg - (534.39KB, 885x626, IK.jpg) [iqdb]
30024
[x] A certain hermit decided to drop by.

Oni in, happiness in~
>> No. 30025
[X] A certain hermit decided to drop by.

I want to see what Kasen makes of Reimu's new guest.
>> No. 30027
File 144647285725.jpg - (228.58KB, 920x840, 45710621.jpg) [iqdb]
30027
[x] Sukuna asked if I could spare some time to indulge her.

Always nice to see more Sukuna.
>> No. 30039
[X] A certain hermit decided to drop by.
>> No. 30053
[x] A certain hermit decided to drop by.

This ought to be interesting.
>> No. 30055
[X] Sukuna asked if I could spare some time to indulge her.
>> No. 30083
A certain hermit wins this vote.

That said,
>>30024
>>30025
Technically, Kasen isn't the only hermit. She's the one most likely to visit Reimu, but she's not the only one.
Just thought I should point that out.

>>30027
Yeah, just bothers me the way she turned out. Had to cut out most of her appearance to make the deadline.
I'd have delayed the update, if I hadn't just done that two updates earlier. Don't wanna make it a habit.
>> No. 30104
>>30083
you might want to think about that as if a constant schedule comes at a cost of quality...
>> No. 30113
File 144838604176.png - (611.81KB, 800x1196, a244d9ae73679a79a2568678d7bad872.png) [iqdb]
30113
>>30104
The deadline wasn't so much the problem. I just sorta 'forgot' to write anything down until the Thursday before. It's not an excuse or anything. I just fucked up.
This time, however, I'm already halfway done with the second part of the update. I should be able to finish it for this weekend, which will give me plenty of time to polish it.

Enjoy this picture while I continue to write.
>> No. 30116
File 144841794140.png - (222.88KB, 574x570, 10390038_828914817167652_5981711633474091126_n.png) [iqdb]
30116
>>30113
Waiting warmly
>> No. 30121
File 144953537962.jpg - (317.37KB, 500x800, f774807ee1bf4be339ffc707ed2728e3.jpg) [iqdb]
30121
==========
Hakurei Shrine - 28th of More Clothes Month 08:48
Gensokyo day 4
==========

**“Reimu,” I slide the door to the living room open, “I think I might have,” my eyes are drawn to the brightly colored newcomer, “broken a tree. Greetings.” I give her a slight nod.

“You ‘think’ you ‘might’ have?” She asks.

“Well you see, the top half isn’t really connected to the roots anymore.” I try to explain carefully.

She raise an eyebrow at my explanation before sighing. “You know what? I really don’t want to deal with that right now. Just,” she waves her hand dismissively, “just get rid of it or something.”

I quickly shift my attention back to the newcomer. ‘Pink’ and ‘Chinese’ are the first two words to come to mind when I look at her.

Oh well.

I slide the door shut again to leave, but the new girl immediately calls out to me.

I slide the door back open. “What?”

“Don’t you have something else to say?” The look in her eyes is enough to send a chill down my spine; and I regularly stare death in the eyes without problems.

“Uhh.” I quickly glance around the room. Nothing out of the ordinary. Am I missing something? “Such as?”

“Well, what’s your excuse for being dressed so indecently?” She puts her hands on her hips. Now that I look at it, her left arm is bandaged. “And to appear as such in front of two young ladies. Have you no shame?”

Young? But youkai don’t look that old until at least three centuries. Well, it’s relatively young, but that’s another topic entirely.

“Exactly what is so indecent about it? The fact I’m topless?”

“Yes.” She states. “Have some decency. Reimu,” she calls the docile shrine maiden, “help me out some, would you?”

“Hey, I’m not about to complain about some free eye candy,” she says wearing a slight smirk of amusement, “just as long as it doesn’t go any further than that.” She finishes her statement by taking a bite off a cookie she was holding.

“What? How can you be so calm about it?” The pink girl asks.

“Why shouldn’t I be?” She retorts. “It’s just a naked chest. It’s not much different from any other man. Just like how yours and mine aren’t that different from other girl.” She finishes off her snack and picks up another one before continuing. “It’s natural. I never understood why people make such a fuss about it.”

Pinkie just stares at the priestess in disbelief for a moment. “Reimu, do you know why it’s called ‘Shrine Maiden’?”

I don’t think this is my conversation any longer, so I just slide the door shut and make my way back outside.

The logs still lies where I left it, to no one’s big surprise. Reimu said to just get rid of it, but how should I go about it? Chopping it up to firewood might be a good way to make use of it; although handling an ax with only one arm doesn’t strike me as a brilliant idea. I could just push in past the tree line. Lifting it is out of the question, but it’s not too tall so I should be able to drag it, even with just one arm.

==========

“Geez she never learns.” The pink woman steps outside, rubbing her head as she complains. “Now where did he- He actually destroyed a tree.”

“The equipment back home has been treated, so it can take more punishment.” I note, directing her attention towards me. “What can I do for you?”

“You ran off before answering my question.” She states.

Her question? Oh right, topless. “The conversation shifted away, so I thought I’d get back training before I started to cool down.”

“Don’t try to change the topic again.”

But I didn’t change the topic last time.

I sigh and hold up my arm. “Look.” In this chilling weather, the heat escaping my body is easily visible, even in the dim light of a still rising sun. “If I were wearing any more clothes, I’d overheat.”

“Overheat from exercising, in winter no less?” She crosses her arms and looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like that.”

“Perhaps because our methods differ.” I get up and stretch my legs before greeting her properly. “I’m Ryuko of the Hakurei clan in the outside world.”

“Ah, uh, Ibaraki Kasen, Hermit.” She introduces herself as well.

“The one armed hermit?” I ask.

She nods slightly. “Yeah. You know of me?”

“Well you see,” I scratch my chin, “my mentor speaks quite fondly of you. Well, you and your two other friends of course.”

“Two others?” She brings her bandaged hand to her mouth. “And outside.” Her index finger gently rubbing her cheek as she ponders for a moment. “This ‘mentor’ of yours, he wouldn’t happen to be a mister Ota, would he?”

“Ota Junya.” I confirm. “Although Reimu told me not to use his name lightly.”

She chuckles. “I see, so that’s what that old drunkard has been up to.”

“Drunkard?” I ask. “No, I mean sure, he likes alcohol, a lot. And he’s drinking it, a lot. But I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him drunk.”

“You just haven’t seen him sober, then.”

That- explains a lot actually. I never really thought about it that way. I just thought he really could hold his liquor.

“But that aside,” she continues, “I never thought little Jun would take on a disciple.”

“So, ‘old drunkard’ and ‘little Jun’, which is it?” I ask.

“Ah, well you see, the tavern we used to go to, he was known as an old drunkard because he was one of their most regular patrons. It was of course just a friendly joke, but the nickname stuck with him.” She explains. “Little Jun was more what we called him. We, as in our little group of four. It came around because he’s the youngest of us.”

"Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that I now Mentor isn't human."

The hermit falls silent. A few seconds pass where she tries to figure the meaning of my comment. Then, as the realization hits her, she turns towards one of the porch’s support beams. With no hesitation she throws her head at it, almost cracking it all the way through.

“I really messed up this time.” With her head still pressed against the beam, she glances over at me. “You won’t be telling anyone about this, right?”

“I would have no reason to.” I reassure her. “Any friend of Mentor is a friend of mine.”

“You really respect him, don’t you?” She brush some splinters out of her hair.

“There’s only one whom I respect more.” That being the Hakurei Goddess herself.

“I see.” She crosses her arms. “In that case, would you be interested in coming to my place to receive training under my guidance?”

“Excuse me?”

“I wish to help.” She explains. “But there’s not a lot of things I can do from this side of the border.”


[] I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine
[] I’d love to


==========
Seems like I’ve made a mistake earlier.
In post >>29881 I said you have around 8 days before you can go back outside again.
That was wrong.

I redid the calculation and realized I forgot to count in the first day as well. 200 hours correspond to 8 days and 8 hours. Which means you can go home on Day 9 at 15:56 (or roughly just 6 pm)

Now, I redid the calculation because I wanted to tell you how much time you have left, since going to Kasen’s place is going to take more than just one day off the counter, which I wanted to make clear as well.

Oh, and sorry for the slight delay. My proofer was out of town. Voting will still be open for a week after the release.
>> No. 30122
[X] I’d love to

Updates, nice.
>> No. 30123
[x] I’d love to

Sorry Raymoo you're old and busted. Oni hermits are the new hotness.
>> No. 30124
[x] I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine

I get a feeling there's a reason why Reimu insists on us sticking around.
>> No. 30125
[x] I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine
>> No. 30126
[X] I’d love to

I'm sure he'd benefit from the training.
>> No. 30127
[x] Reimu doesn't want me to leave, maybe?
-[x] I have little time to be here though, so what you can do here will probably be enough.

Please teach us, Onii-san!
>> No. 30128
[x] I don’t think Reimu wants me to leave the shrine
>> No. 30129
[X] I’d love to

Reimu can vet for Kasen's training program.
156posts omitted. First 100 shown.
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